It’s 2030, imagine if…

The B&B Highway’s Schools for Biodiversity program took Australian pollinator species from threatened to thriving. By engaging thousands of school communities around the country in biodiversity capability building, collective planting and citizen science, Australian-identified plant/pollinator relationships increased by 10% by 2027. Establishing the key host plants that pollinators need prompted Federal action plans for the further protection of 37 key pollinators, including the Swift Parrot and Striated pardalote in Greater Western Sydney and the Helmeted Honeyeater in Victoria. The splitting of the program’s native bee hives substantially increased habitats within the wider community and a 100% year-on-year increase in native social stingless bees occurred. The important native Blue-Banded bee was also brought back to healthy numbers. The B&B Highway movement influenced the 2028 Planning and Development mandates for biodiversity, creating wider pollinator ‘highway’ corridors across our urban centres.

Summary of solution

The 'B'Generation program identifies native endemic plants and pollinators in each school area and plants constructed habitats such as nesting boxes and stingless beehives in school grounds to 'bring back' identified local plants and pollinators. Regenerative corridors are formed between the various biodiversity hubs in each local government area, supporting native wildlife, bringing back threatened species and ultimately improving ecosystem functionality.

The program features community involvement in plantings, learning about native/endemic species and citizen science. There are already over 100 schools on board the program across NSW & Victoria and plans to start in Queensland. Each school plants at least 60 plants and installs constructed habitat to create regenerative corridors. This project has a citizen science module developed with the CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia which facilitates student-led data observations of plant and animal species to the iNaturalist biodiversity database.

Why is this solution innovative

An innovative environmental feature of our project is our aim to target threatened species in each LGA to 'bring back' or improve numbers of at least one pollinator or plant. The citizen science modules offer exciting ways to attract novice community members to biodiversity initiatives. Students learn how to identify endemic plants and threatened birds, insects and pollinator mammals in their region and create habitats to support them. Additionally, educational biodiversity resources have been co-developed with the Department of Education. The project also facilitates community collaboration through students taking home resources to support plantings and pollinator habitats in their own homes, inter-school contributions to planting, as well as a range of community initiatives to foster collaboration.

Schools are hubs for the community and I think this project presents a fantastic opportunity for engagement with conservation in an urban setting.