Public Policy Event – Tackling the Decline in Pollinating Insects: Boosting Community Partnerships and Engagement Nationwide. 12th October, Central London.
The beauty and biodiversity of the UK countryside, along with the productivity and quality of the nation’s £100bn food industry, is significantly dependant upon the abundance and sustainability of pollinating insect numbers. Approximately 75% of the world’s food crops are at least partially reliant upon pollination, as are nearly 90% of all wild flowering plants (IBES, 2017). Whilst there are at least 1500 species of pollinating insects in the UK, a loss in flower rich habitats attributable to the intensification of agriculture, rapid industrial development and urbanisation, has led to a marked decline in the profusion of pollinators. Indeed, the UK has lost 20 species of bee since the 1900s and a further 35 are considered under threat (Friends of the Earth).
In response, the 10 year National Pollinator Strategy was launched by DEFRA in November 2014, aiming to support pollinators across farmland, towns, cities and countryside, as well as improve awareness and evidence of their status and needs. This strategy has engaged, and is being co-implemented by: voluntary organisations, community groups, local authorities and numerous public bodies. The Campaign for Farmed Environment has provided consistent guidance on pollinator management for farm businesses, whilst Helping Pollinators Locally (2016), co-published by conservation charity Buglife, offers guidance to local authorities on the formulation and delivery of a ‘local pollinator strategy’.
However, despite evidence of expanded community engagement and partnerships, it is clear that the future sustainability of pollinating insect numbers remains deeply uncertain. The British Beekeepers Association reported over winter bee loses rising from 14.7% in 2014/15 to 16.7% in 15/16. Similarly, analysis on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, published by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology last year, demonstrates an average 7% decline in populations across all bee species since 2002. Whilst ‘neonics’ have been subjected to a two year ban from use in fields by the European Commission, ’Brexit’ has cast doubts over the future regulatory framework governing pollinator harming pesticides in the UK.
Three years on from the publication of the National Pollinator Strategy, this symposium will provide: local authorities, community and conservation organisations, government departments, schools, businesses, and researchers with a timely and invaluable opportunity to analyse the impact of recent actions taken to support pollinators. It will also provide all attendees with a chance to share best practice and co-formulate strategies to create diverse and high quality habitats for pollinating insects nationwide.
Delegates will be able to:
- Scrutinise progress made towards the ambitions of the National Pollinator Strategy, identifying priorities for action.
- Engage with a variety of sectors, sharing expertise and strengthening partnership working
- Assess how to provide more diverse and high quality flower rich habitats supporting pollinators across the country
- Analyse how to engage with a range of businesses to raise awareness and resources
- Determine how to develop and promote local pollinator strategies and enthuse communities
- Consider how to improve support for farmers and pollinators on farmland, providing food shelter and nesting sites and minimising pesticide associated risks
- Develop methods of managing underutilised or disused land for the benefit of pollinators locally
- Examine how to provide higher quality public green spaces in local communities, benefiting pollinators and the health and well being of residents
- Evaluate what impact Brexit may have upon the sustainability of pollinating insect numbers in the UK
- Share evidence on the status of pollinating insects and how resilient natural systems are to changes in their populations