The Government has launched a new strategy to support bees and other pollinators that are vital for fertilising plants.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
As much as one third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees from apples and pears to strawberries to beans. We now estimate the value of insects pollinating our crops and plants amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds.
Thats why we are doing everything we can to help them thrive. Not everyone can become a beekeeper, but everyone from major land owners to window-box gardeners can play their part in boosting pollinators.
Defra has also announced the first ever wild pollinator and farm wildlife package, which will see more funding made available to farmers and landowners that take steps to protect pollinators through the newCountryside Stewardship Scheme.
Speaking ahead of the announcement, NFU President Meurig Raymond said: The NFU is supportive of the strategy that Liz Truss has revealed as we recognise the importance of pollinators to our food supply.
Bees and other pollinators make a crucial contribution to food production and the wider environment through the pollination of many crops and wild plants. While we agree that this strategy will go some way to helping our pollinator populations to thrive, it is important to remember that they are being challenged by a range of factors including habitat loss, pests and diseases, climate change and chemicals they encounter in the environment,such as pesticides. The evidence shows clearly that we cant single out just one cause of pollinator declines.
A real strength of the strategy is that it is evidence based. In fact, that evidence shows we do not even know whether our bees and pollinators are still in decline. We know the diversity of our pollinators declined up until the 1980s, but in the last 20 years those declines have slowed or even reversed. We have no idea what the current status of our pollinators is terms of actual numbers of insects, and whether this is declining, stable or increasing. That is why we believe it is critically important that the strategy puts in place a comprehensive national pollinator and pollination monitoring programme.
No community is doing more to help bees than farming. In 2014,450,000 hectares were managed under a variety of unpaid Campaign for the FarmedEnvironment environmental measures and, as part of this, farmers provided 8,000hectares of flowers for pollinators including wildflower mix, pollen and nectar mix, and flower-rich temporary grass.
On top of this, this year, the CFE has delivered nearly 40pollinator themed farm walks and events reaching over 900 farmers across the country. It is also working closely with the rest of the industry to offer subsidised pollen and nectar mixes to farmers. The NFU is hugely encouraged by the fact farming is already delivering for pollinators on a greater scale than any other industry or initiative.
We also recognise the importance of the role of the newCountryside Stewardship Scheme and the NFU is committed to continuing to work with Defra and Natural England in the development of the this scheme and how it will be implemented on the ground.