Five simple actions to help pollinators such as planting more bee-friendly flowers and cutting grass less often were promoted today to protect the vital contribution these insects make to our economy.
The five actions form part of a call to action launched by Environment Minister Lord de Mauley today at the Plant Life Conference, hosted by HRH the Prince of Wales, to encourage people to do their bit to help insects such bees and butterflies.
Pollinators provide variety in our diets and some crops, like raspberries, apples and pears, particularly need insect pollination to produce good yields of high quality fruit.
Research has estimated the value of insect pollination to crops at around £400 million due to increases in yield and quality of seeds and fruit.
Lord de Mauley said:
“Pollinators such as bees are vital to the environment and the economy and I want to make sure that we do all we can to safeguard them.
“That’s why we are encouraging everyone to take a few simple actions and play their part in helping protect our bees and butterflies. We will be publishing a nationwide strategy for pollinators later this year to set out everything that we can do to help pollinators flourish.”
Whether people live in a town or in the countryside, they are being urged to help create or improve a habitat for pollinators in five simple ways:
1. Grow more nectar and pollen-rich flowers, shrubs and trees
2. Leave patches of land to grow wild
3. Cut grass less often
4. Avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects
5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides
The five simple actions were drawn up with experts from Natural England, the Food and Environment Research Agency, conservation charities and the research community.
There are at least 1500 species of insect pollinators in the UK. This includes 26 species of bumble bee, 260 solitary bees, 1 honey bee species and hundreds of types of hoverflies, butterflies and moths.
Defra will be publishing a national strategy for pollinators in the Autumn, following a public consultation earlier this year.
Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth Executive Director Andy Atkins said:
“The plight of our bees is high on people’s environmental concerns so it’s great to see Government, businesses and communities launching this call to action to protect this iconic species.
“The good news is that everyone can be part of the generation that helps saves our bees, from creating a ‘Bee World’ wildflower patch in your local area to helping scientists monitor bee health by logging any bees you spot with the free Great British Bee Count app.”
National Farmers Union
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said:
“We are pleased to support this call to action, which lists five things we can all do to benefit pollinators, including providing more of the food and habitat they need to thrive and taking care when using pesticides.
“Through the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, the NFU has already helped deliver pollinator events to over 800 farmers and growers across the country this year, giving them the information they need to support this call to action on their own farms.”
National Federation of Women’s Institutes
Marylyn Haines Evans, Chair of the NFWI Public Affairs Committee said:
“This is a great foundation for us all to start helping our bees through five practical actions which everyone can get behind. These actions, combined with government leadership, will be vital to get the right framework in place for bee health in the long term.
“The WI now look forward to seeing the publication of the National Pollinator Strategy in the Autumn with clear actions and targets for the future.”