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Pollinators: Conservation

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 228062, tabled on 4 March 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reverse the decline of pollinators.

Answered on

7 March 2019

The National Pollinator Strategy is a 10 year plan published in November 2014, developed following a thorough review of the evidence base and wide consultation. It sets out how the Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to improve the status of the 1,500 or so pollinating insect species in England.

On farmland, since 2011, over 130,000 hectares in England have been set aside to create new wildlife-rich habitat, largely through our agri-environment schemes. In 2015 we also introduced new and simple agri-environment ‘packages’ to make it easier for farmers to provide flower-rich margins or pollen and nectar plots on fields to support wild pollinators.

Natural England, our statutory nature conservation adviser, continues to work with a range of landowning and NGO partners to support the recovery of threatened species such as the barberry carpet moth, short-haired bumblebee and chequered skipper butterfly.

We are supporting science-led restrictions on neonicotinoids based on scientific evidence that they carry risks to pollinators. We also continue to tackle threats from invasive species, such as the Asian hornet, and protect honey bees from pests and diseases through a nationwide team of bee inspectors.

We gather data on the status of pollinators through a UK-wide pollinator monitoring and research partnership, established in collaboration with research institutes and volunteer organisations. The Government’s indicators of the abundance of UK butterflies show long-term declines since 1976 but no significant change since 2012. Our indicator of pollinating insects in the UK tells a similar story: overall distribution has declined since 1980 but has stabilised in recent years. We are keeping these trends under review as encouraging but not yet definitive signs of progress.

The research evidence base on pollinators and pollination is constantly improving and we keep this under review through our advisory groups.

The 25 Year Environment Plan commits to improving the status of insects. We will continue to work in partnership with scientists and practitioners for future generations to inherit a better environment.

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