When I chaired a discussion on the National Pollinator Strategy, things unfolded differently to what delegates expected.
The Public Policy Exchange framed the conference around two words: exchange – as in knowledge sharing, and communities. Including the range of farming, urban, scientific, political, research council, environmental group, farm conservation advisor and beekeeper interests.
Diversity in delegates
And because politicians always have to be somewhere else, I asked everyone round the room to take off their label to speak for 60 seconds on their passion and knowledge of pollinators in front of the MP. All without saying for whom they worked. There was a palpable relief in the room to be able to speak freely.
Feeding off feedback
The wide range of responses included: get policy makers into the field – inform and empower planners – manage habitat for food (human and pollinators) – understand farmers better – assess diverse range of solutions.
Later the audience provided brief outtakes on how to progress. Key pointers included that we already have solutions – sow more flowers, create nesting and hibernation habitats – as well as celebrate good practice, be judicious with pesticides on both crops and on honeybees re miticides.
Gaps were on lacking technical skills to monitor the huge range of pollinator species and engagement with farmers who can do most for pollinators over huge swathes of countryside. Yes, urban areas are important, but as London is awash with managed honey bees (over 6000 swarms), there’s a danger of out-competing wild bees for limited forage.
Bee in the bonnet
One overarching issue was if we only focus on banning pesticides, we might take our eye off ‘the biggy’ in Defra’s Pollinator Strategy (page 4) – ‘Loss of habitat was identified as a likely main cause of pollinator declines’.
Updated June 18, Sept 19, Mar 20, Mar 21
Addendum – Wildflower strips enhance wild bee reproductive success Oct 20