Can a strategy that fails to address the issue of pesticides and lacks targets on habitat restoration prove effective? Karl Mathiesen investigates.
The government’s strategy for protecting pollinating insects, including bees, fails to adequately address one of the major threats to their health say scientists, environmentalists and opposition politicians.
The national pollinator strategy (NPS), launched on Tuesday by environment secretary, Liz Truss, focuses on measures that will provide insects with “food and a home”. But scientists, environmentalists and rival politicians, while broadly welcoming of the strategy, say the government is wilfully downplaying the issue of pesticides.
Experts also raised concerns about the lack of specific targets and mandatory actions in the policy.
Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle criticised Truss for failing to mention pesticides in a speech on Tuesday to launch the NPS.
“Liz Truss has managed to make a speech about pollinators without once mentioning pesticides which is like making a speech about climate change without mentioning carbon,” said Eagle.
Bee biologist Dave Goulson said the government’s strategy contained the same blind spot. He said the government had put in place weak, voluntary measures to limit the use of chemicals known to affect pollinators.
“The biggest driver of wildlife declines in the UK has been the push for ever more intensive farming systems, dependent on very high pesticide inputs. The NPS suggests that it will encourage farmers to adopt “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) strategies that aim to reduce pesticide input, but it offers no practical mechanism to achieve this. Most farmers are highly unlikely to even read the NPS, let alone change their farming practices as a result,” said Goulson.
More on: www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/04/will-the-uks-pollinator-strategy-be-enough-to-stop-bee-decline