Equinix has joined Host In Ireland’s Orchards in the Community initiative.

The colo firm said this week that it was sending orchards to primary and secondary schools to help give children an opportunity to learn about the importance of protecting pollinators. Charities and other community organizations such as Tidy Towns and local GAA grounds in more than six counties will also benefit from the orchards pledged by Equinix.

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– Equinix

“The team at Equinix Ireland is very proud to support Host in Ireland’s Orchards in the Community initiative – a signature initiative geared towards saving Ireland’s bee population,” said Maurice Mortell, Equinix’s Sustainability Lead in EMEA and managing director for Ireland. “At Equinix, we are taking action by planting orchards and pollinator-friendly plants, while also installing bug hotels at our existing sites in Dublin where possible and building these elements into the plans of new sites.”

Orchards In The Community is part of Host In Ireland’s DCs for Bees initiative. Orchards play a key role in providing an early food source for bees as they emerge from winter; the initiative aims to plant more than 1,000 mixed fruit orchards all over Ireland. Host In Ireland suggests planting fruit trees including Victoria Plum, Conference Pear, Discovery Apple, Katy Apple, and Boskoop Apple. CyrusOne is already a member of the initiative.

“Orchards in the Community is helping to create 'pollinator pit stops’ across the island. One-third of our 99 wild bee species are at risk of extinction. Each year as they flower, these orchards will provide them with vital food. In return, by pollinating the flowers, the bees will ensure we have lots of fruits to enjoy in the autumn,” said Dr. Úna FitzPatrick co-founder and project manager of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. “The scale of this initiative provides us with a unique opportunity to track change. By planting uniform orchards in multiple locations within the one growing season, we can assess which insects visit in different regions, and better understand which areas have the greatest abundance and diversity of pollinators remaining.”

DC for Bees calls on data center operators to adopt plans to support biodiversity. These include 42 suggested actions, including preserving existing hedges that contain forage plants, and reducing the mowing of lawns to allow wildflowers to grow. Bees can be given nesting places, with "bee hotels" hanging on walls, and earth banks for mining bees. DCs for Bees also suggests drilling holes in wood on site to allow more nesting space.

“Orchards have played an important role in communities for many centuries, providing a focal point, a gathering space, and a place where people and nature successfully work together to create abundant harvests,” said Garry Connolly, founder, Host in Ireland. “That spirit of community is alive and well with ‘Orchards in the Community’ as organizations like Equinix come together with biodiversity groups, schools, colleges, Tidy Towns and others across Ireland to tackle challenges like biodiversity loss to save Ireland’s pollinators.”

NTT keeps bees on the roof of its Vienna 1 data center in Austria. Depending on conditions, the four hives shown could produce around 100lb (45kg) of honey per year, and will help pollinate local plants.

While not as common as renewable efforts such as installing solar panels or Power Purchase Agreements, a number of telcos and data center firms are beginning to invest in forestation projects. Most recently, Gibraltar telco firm Gibtelecom planted more than 600 native British trees at a farm in Wales.

French telco Orange has invested in several carbon sink projects including pine tree reforestation in Spain, mangrove plantation in Senegal, and a reforestation project in France. Interxion recently announced it was sponsoring a new afforestation project in Palencia, Spain, following previous forestry projects in Madrid and France.

Other data center operators supporting reforestation or afforestation include QTS, which is working with American Forest on reforestation projects in the US, saying it will plant one tree per month for every 100 kilowatt (kW) customer agreement. In the Philippines, Converge ICT Solutions recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Aeta community here to adopt a two-hectare land for reforestation near Angeles City.

Equinix operates four data centers in Ireland around Dublin, and is developing a hyperscale facility under its xScale brand.

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