Page 3625 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 22 November 2022

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Like all issues, there are steps that residents themselves can take to help make a positive impact right now. For example, planting bee friendly plants in your garden is a great start. Bees love lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, perennial basil and borage to name just a few. Removing the use of pesticides or herbicides is another small but impactful gardening step and when purchasing new plants, you could ask whether they have been treated with pesticides that may be toxic to bees. You can buy local honey; it is also a great tip for hay fever sufferers at this time of the year where it seems so common across Canberra. You can place stones in your bird bath to prevent bees from drowning when they try to get a drink. You can also spread the word about what makes your garden bee friendly.

I thank Ms Orr and Dr Paterson for bringing this motion forth today. It is a great motion. I am almost reluctant to say this, but I give you a bee-plus for it! I commend the motion to the floor.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (3.23): I rise to support Ms Orr’s motion, moved by Dr Paterson, on bees and other pollinators and welcome this important debate about protecting our bees right across the ACT and beyond.

We know that bees are facing significant threats to their long-term survival, including climate change, development, habitat loss, invasive plants and pests, and disease. Recent biosecurity threats of the varroa mite remind us again of the importance of bees in our ecosystem and why we must protect them.

I am pleased that in the development of the Urban Forest Strategy, in my portfolio, the ACT government has identified that the renewal of the urban forest provides an opportunity to develop an improved diversity of habitat and resources for bees. There are not just many flowering plants and shrubs but also a lot of flowering trees that they are attracted to. We will do that by considering the flowering times and nectar and pollen characteristics of individual tree species in our tree planting lists. This is an approach that the ACT government will undertake as we continue our tree planting initiatives and plant thousands more trees across the city, but it is also something that we encourage all Canberrans, and developers, to consider as they plant trees and other plants around their leases.

We have introduced municipal infrastructure standards for plant species for urban landscape projects, where we have particularly identified species which support bees and other pollinators. This is a comprehensive document that identifies a large range of trees that should be planted in the urban environment of Canberra that will promote and encourage biodiversity.

We have collaborated with ACT for Bees in the development of these standards, and we have detailed the flowering times, any nectar, pollen or fruit produced and the forager which uses these bounties. In promoting these standards and encouraging plantings that support bees, Transport Canberra and City Services staff presented at a Planting for Pollinators symposium hosted by ACT for Bees in April 2021. TCCS staff identified how planning policy is playing its part in ensuring a steady and consistent supply of plant material for pollinating animals, including bees.

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