A recent crowd-funding campaign to raise much-needed funds to help the Blue-banded bee protect the Merri Creek grasslands raised more than $25,000, far surpassing the original target of $15,000.
The Friends of Merri Creek community group created the Pozible campaign in August to support theirs efforts to protect the grasslands, which are under threat from increasing development.
The Blue-banded bee is crucial to the habitat, pollinating the wildflowers and endangered lilies that are essential to the diversity and long-term survival of the Yarra grasslands.
The bees’ pollination technique is called buzz pollination, which involves banging their head in a flower an exhausting 350 times per second.
But the bees can only travel short distances, and the diminishing number of native flowers in the ecosystem is making their job more challenging. With the funds raised through the campaign, Friends of Merri Creek will plant wildflower seedlings to replenish the numbers of native flowers, and help the bees to regenerate the grasslands.
The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is matching the first $15,000 raised, bringing the current total to more than $40,000.
The administrative arm of the volunteer community group is the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC), which was formed in 1989 and coordinates works and planning along the creek.
Katrina Roberg, Conservation Program Manager for the MCMC says they were incredibly excited about the success of the campaign, which hit its target just four days into the four-week long campaign. “We had a strong Facebook and social media plan to get the message out,” she told the Yarra Reporter.
“The community response was very supportive. It was very exciting because of the work from Jen Cloher, a well-known musician,” Says Roberg. “Because of Jen’s work and also other skilled volunteers we managed to reach a new market, a new area of people that we knew would be interested but that we had never really reached before.”
Jen Cloher as well as other musicians such as Courtney Barnett and Steph Hughes helped promote the cause to the community and supporters of local independent music.
As part of the campaign, the musicians behind the cause came together to form the ‘Blue Banded Bee Band’, which is slated for a gig at the Northcote Social Club on Saturday, 3rd December.
“It’s a great initiative, an invitation for people to connect with their local environment and support it,” Roberg says. “There’s a beautiful local natural environment right here along the Merri Creek and you can enjoy it by walking the trail but you can also get involved and learn more about it and be involved in caring for it.”
The Blue Banded Bees are important for the ecosystem of the area, in particular for the pollination of the Dianella Amoena Matted Flax Lilly, found at Merri Creek.
“Because we’ve built a city on a natural landscape some of these patches are too far apart for the bees to be able to get from one patch to another, so this project will plant stepping stones or pollination pathways so the bee can transfer pollen between the patches,” Roberg explains.
The money raised will go towards planting new lily patches and the maintenance of those in their first stages. A group of citizen scientists will monitor and report on productivity of the pollinating and the vitality of the new flowers.
By Caitlyn Leggett