The Wildlife Trusts have published a new report ‘Reversing the decline of insects’ which shows how people, in every part of society, wherever they live, can take action to bring back insects. Everyone, everywhere, is being asked to become an insect champion.
The report cites examples of farmers, communities, councils and charities that are boosting insect populations and proving that it can be done.
The report comes at a critical time for insects. There is ongoing evidence for insect declines and the future of insects – and all life that depends on them – hangs in the balance as trade deals threaten to increase the use of insect-harming pesticides. Furthermore, the Agriculture Bill is progressing through Parliament presenting a unique opportunity to ensure farmers pursue insect-friendly farming methods.
The publication follows the ‘Insect declines and why they matter’ report, launched last year, which examined mounting evidence that insect populations are close to collapse and concluded that “the consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing.”
Insects are in trouble according to Prof Dave Goulson and he believes gardeners have an important role to play in reversing their decline. Dave Goulson’s garden is a good example.
As reported by Greenpeace the EU has pledged to bring to an end the deplorable practice of sending thousands of tonnes of pesticides and herbicides which are banned in Europe to poor third world countries with weaker regulations.
The UK is a major exporter of these banned pesticides but this new proposed legislation won’t apply to us as we are no longer members of the EU.
Many of these banned agrochemicals pose a threat to bees and other pollinators, not to mention people. For example the herbicide Paraquat is manufactured for Syngenta in its factory here in Huddersfield. We are not the only culprits, however, as 10 other EU countries, including Germany and France, are guilty of exporting similar prohibited chemicals.
The date set for action is 2023.
Will the UK follow suit?
Farmers Weekly 11th Sept 20 has an article about an RSPB owned commercial arable farm.
In 2019, the farm was benchmarked against other local farm businesses and though crops varied in profitability, this was typical compared to the other farms.
!n 2019, the farm went completely insecticide free and saw no reduction in yields compared with previous years, making small savings on the products.
“Though we had aphids in the beans last year, there were loads of ladybirds and larvae too, and within 10 days there were only ladybirds left and the beans didn’t suffer at all,”
The farm is planting wildflower corridors through fields to increase access to beneficial insects, compost spreading and sowing cover crops as part of the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology and Rothamsted Research’s Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems programme.