The efforts of students at a York college to protect insects have been recognised in a new award scheme championing projects across the British Isles that restore wildlife.

Askham Bryan College is a finalist in the Great British Wildlife Restoration competition, which shines a spotlight on projects that aim to tackle the drastic decline of native species.

The specialist land-based college is one of 22 organisations shortlisted by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the only one in Yorkshire.

Designed by animal management students, the College’s pollinator project aims to conserve native butterflies, moths and bees by creating plant beds designed for each target species.


The project has been developed at the College’s Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park, which is accredited by BIAZA and has 144 different species. The park is a teaching facility in term time and open to the public at weekends and during the holidays.

Students have planted 10 zones. They have chosen plants that specifically target each of the 10 key focus species of pollinators that they identified were missing or low in numbers across the college after conducting surveys.

The students have also designed and displayed information about the project to enable all students and visitors to learn about the importance of the UK’s pollinators in maintaining biodiversity nationally.

Jo Richards, Curriculum Area Manager, Animal Management, Askham Bryan College, said: “Students have created the pollinator project to allow high priority species to thrive. We are delighted to be shortlisted for this award.

She added: “It is crucial that we educate and train our students in the skills to respond to current and future challenges for the environment. The knowledge and skills that they have gained through this project will also benefit them in their future conservation-based careers.”

Dr Jo Judge, Chief Executive Officer, BIAZA, said: “We have an extraordinary shortlist of projects. They demonstrate that zoos and aquariums are not just saving exotic species but supporting wildlife on our doorstep.

“We have to treasure the nature we have and help it thrive. It should be widely known that BIAZA zoos and aquariums are doing just that. It’s a source of hope and something we can all be proud of.”

BIAZA’s Great British Wildlife Restoration competition is inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Wild Isles BBC TV series.

The other shortlisted projects include organisations helping thousands of animals, habitats and ecosystems such as red squirrels, oysters and glow worms.

Askham Bryan College will be invited to an awards evening at the Houses of Parliament in January 2024.

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