Protect our bees

National Pollinator Strategy needs strengthening, says coalition

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 4 November 2015

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

  

The UK government isn’t acting quickly enough on new evidence of the threats faced by bees and other pollinators in England.

This warning has come from the Bee Coalition on the first anniversary (04 November) of the UK’s National Pollinator Strategy (NPS).

Secret pesticide docs revealed – government lifted bee-killing pesticide ban on the basis of ‘very little information’

Government failings

The report Policies for Pollinators criticises the government for failing to respond to new studies linking the use of neonicotinoid insecticides with harm to bees.

The Bee Coalition says it’s neither credible nor possible to protect bees and pollinators whilst failing to act on pesticides.

‘The government may recognise the importance of protecting our bees and other pollinators, but far more must be done to safeguard their future.

‘The National Pollinator Strategy needs to be strengthened with a permanent ban on bee-harming pesticides, a target for reducing all pesticide use, and tougher action to prevent the destruction of habitats that our pollinators depend on.’

Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth bee campaigner

Pesticide ban lifted

Earlier this year, the government controversially gave special permission for farmers in some parts of England to use ‘banned’ bee-harming pesticides this autumn.

The High Court is expected to decide tomorrow (Thursday 05 November) whether or not Friends of the Earth can challenge this decision through the courts.

‘The government is not willing to talk about the big elephant in the room: pesticides. And we aren’t just talking about neonicotinoids.

’It is time the government commits to reducing overall pesticide usage by supporting alternative methods like organic, as the report recommends. This will be good for farmers – and bees.

‘Many farmers feel they are reliant on spraying up to twenty or so different costly chemicals on each of their fields every year. That’s clearly not sustainable, and is bad for the future for wildlife and food production.’

Louise Payton, Policy Officer of the Soil Association

Habitat loss

Habitat loss is another major threat to bees, and this is expected to become increasingly severe as climate change takes hold. But the Bee Coalition says the government is failing to ensure that adequate pollinator-friendly habitat is being provided.

Although communities, individuals, businesses and local councils are taking voluntary steps to protect bees, stronger government leadership is needed if action is to match the threats our pollinators face.

On top of that, the significant amounts of public money spent on ‘greening’ our farmland may fail to help bees and other wildlife because the government chose to allow farmers maximum flexibility in how they use the money.

‘Toxic chemicals cause devastation to bees and other pollinators – the government must act now, before the damage can no longer be repaired.’

Tess Crean, toxics expert at ClientEarth

Suggested measures

The Bee Coalition is urging the government to strengthen the NPS by introducing a number of measures, including:

  • A permanent ban on neonicotinoid insecticides and an action plan aimed at reducing overall use of all pesticides
  • Stronger incentives for farmers to use bee-friendly farming techniques
  • Tougher protection for remaining bee habitats, such as wildflower meadows, to ensure they are not lost to development
  • The creation of extensive and connected flower-rich bee-friendly habitat across our countryside, farmland and urban landscapes

The Bee Coalition is also calling on the government to bring forward its promised ‘refresh’ of the NPS – currently planned for 2019 – to take account of new evidence on pesticides and climate change.

The Bee Coalition includes Buglife, ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network, Soil Association and The Wildlife Trusts.


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