Much as we like to imagine we live in a green and pleasant land; the truth is that the UK is now one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.
Craig Bennet, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts writes in a new report from the Wildlife Trust “Reversing the Decline of Insects” which focuses on the rapidly diminishing insect populations and the steps we can do as communities to help prevent these.
The lead author is Professor Dave Goulson, a professor of biology who specialises in bumblebee ecology and founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. He highlighted some of the alarming statistics in his recent book The Garden Jungle.
“Wildflower meadows used to cover much of lowland Britain: 7m acres of them in 1930s. Only 2% of these remain. Hedgehogs have declined in numbers by 50% in just the last 15 years. In parts of China, farmers now have to hand-pollinate fruit trees because pesticides have wiped out the bees. In the UK, orchards are typically sprayed 26 times a year with insecticides, fungicides and other chemicals: “those rosy, shiny apples on the supermarket shelf got there as a result of environmental carnage”.
The main insecticide, Goulson notes, was chlorpyrifos, belonging to the chemical family of organophosphates which are also toxic for people.
Whether as an individual, you ‘like’ insects or not, we need them. Without their help in recycling nutrients and keeping soil healthy, it would be much harder to grow crops, and the three quarters of our crops that require insect pollinators would produce little or nothing. We could not feed the growing human population without the help of insects, so we have a very pressing, personal reason to look after them. Yet, 41% face extinction.
It’s not too late to bring them back, but urgent action is needed. We can all do our bit, by making the communities we live in more insect-friendly. Simple, non-intervention practices such as allowing wildflowers to grow alongside paths, on parish greens and in churchyards, to more specific changes like declaring pesticide-free towns.
Download the Wildlife Trust report as a PDF here Reversing-the-Decline-of-Insects-Report-EMBARGO-08.07.20-FINAL.pdf (4 downloads)
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