Coalition criticizes UK Government’s failure to respond to threats faced by bees

Earlier this week, coinciding with the first anniversary of the UK’s National Pollinator Strategy [NPS], the Bee Coalition warned that the UK government has failed to respond to continuing evidence about the threats faced by bees and other pollinators in England.

In its Policies for Pollinators report, the coalition says that the action so far taken by the government is inadequate to address the threats that pollinators face and that it has not reacted fast enough to the plethora of new studies linking neonicotinoid insecticides with harm to bees.

The Bee Coalition points out that the government is failing to ensure that adequate pollinator-friendly habitat is being provided and says that stronger leadership is needed if action is to match the threats pollinators face.

The coalition is urging the Government to strengthen the NPS by introducing a number of measures including:

  • a permanent ban on neonicotinoid insecticides and an action plan aimed at reducing overall use of all pesticides
  • stronger incentives for farmers to use bee-friendly farming techniques
  • tougher protection for remaining bee habitats, such as wildflower meadows, to ensure they are not lost to development
  • and the creation of extensive and connected flower-rich bee-friendly habitat across our countryside, farmland and urban landscapes

It is also calling on the government to bring forward its promised ‘refresh’ of the NPS – currently planned for 2019 – to take account of new evidence on pesticides and climate change.

Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Sandra Bell said: “The government may recognise the importance of protecting our bees and other pollinators, but far more must be done to safeguard their future.

“The National Pollinator Strategy needs to be strengthened with a permanent ban on bee-harming pesticides, a target for reducing all pesticide use, and tougher action to prevent the destruction of habitats that our pollinators depend on.”

Louise Payton, Policy Officer of the Soil Association added: “The government is not willing to talk about the big elephant in the room: pesticides. And we aren’t just talking about neonicotinoids.

“It is time the government commits to reducing overall pesticide usage by supporting alternative methods like organic, as the report recommends. This will be good for farmers – and bees.

“Many farmers feel they are reliant on spraying up to twenty or so different costly chemicals on each of their fields every year. That’s clearly not sustainable, and is bad for the future for wildlife and food production.”

“It is also vitally important that measures are taken to enable and encourage the creation of suitable new connected habitats for our bees,” commented Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife. “Investment in this infrastructure is essential for our ongoing health and wellbeing.”

The Bee Coalition comprises Buglife, ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network, Soil Association and The Wildlife Trusts.

The complete Policies for Pollinators report can be viewed here.