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A new award that will reward golf clubs which have successfully created pollen rich habitats on courses, leading to an increase in pollinating insects, has been launched by The Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) and Syngenta.

The Operation Pollinator Award 2013 will be eligible for entry by all clubs implementing the Operation Pollinator programme. The awards will raise awareness of Operation Pollinator, an international biodiversity programme driven by Syngenta, which aims to boost the number of pollinating insects by helping to provide essential habitats for feeding and nesting. Operation Pollinator guidelines and advice has been developed specifically for golf courses in conjunction with STRI.

The award entries will be judged by Bob Taylor, STRI's Ecology and Environment Manager before the end of September 2013.

Judging criteria includes successful habitat transition, variety of wildflowers, scale of the project and participation levels, and how effectively the club is communicating its efforts.

The overall winner and a runner-up will be announced in October, with the winning club invited as guests to the Golf Environment Awards in January 2014 as well as being presented with prestigious certificates of merit.

Golf courses provide essential sanctuaries for bees and other beneficial insect species. As part of Operation Pollinator, Syngenta gives UK and Ireland greenkeepers and golf course managers the tools and skills to successfully and cost effectively establish and manage attractive wildflower resources that are crucial for bumblebees and pollinating insects, whilst enhancing the visual appearance of the course and the overall playing experience. It also includes resources to use Operation Pollinator to help marketing the club.

Bob Taylor of STRI (above, providing Operation Pollinator training) said: "We are constantly looking at ways to improve the number of pollinating insects in the UK, especially bees, and have seen a positive impact on numbers within golf clubs incorporating the Operation Pollinator programme. STRI is delighted to launch this new award, to help promote those golf clubs that have shown that the programme works and is helping to improve the environment."

Syngenta Operation Pollinator Manager, Caroline Carroll, added: "Since the inception of Operation Pollinator the clubs involved have achieved some incredible successes in establishing the essential habitats that are proving attractive to bees and other wildlife."

Caroline cites the experiences of John O'Gaunt Golf Club in Bedfordshire, where greenkeeper Steve Thompson (above) has used Operation Pollinator to create a valuable asset for the club and the ecology of the course. Now in its third season, the wildflower area has blossomed into an excellent example of what can be achieved and the bebfits it can bring. 

She added: "Operation Pollinator also creates colourful and interesting ecological features on the course that highlight the real environmental activity of golf clubs, gives the opportunity to engage with the wider community and, ultimately, attract new players to participating clubs.

"The Operation Pollinator Award will rightly recognise and reward those clubs that have achieved the best results. But equally importantly, it will glean their top tips and practical ideas that can be shared to help enrich the ecological efforts of all involved, and promote the positive environmental action of golf clubs."

Click here for more information and to join Operation Pollinator.