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. To include the diverse range of farming, urban, scientific, political, research council, environmental, farm 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 then speak, without saying for whom they represented, for 60 seconds on their passion and knowledge of pollinators. There was a palpable relief in the room to be able to speak freely, without judgement.
Feeding off feedback
Responses from the round the table 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. Which included that we already have solutions – sow more flowers, create nesting and hibernation habitats. Celebrate good practice more. Be judicious with pesticides on both crops and managing honeybees (miticides.)
Gaps lacked around technical skills to monitor the huge range of pollinator species. Once again, engagement with farmers over large swathes of countryside came up. Urban areas are important, London is buzzing with managed honeybees (over 6000 swarms). Though 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 main cause of pollinators declines’. Defra’s Pollinator Strategy (page 4) highlights this as ‘Loss of habitat was identified as a likely main cause of pollinator declines’.
Updated June 18, Sept 19, Mar 20, Mar, Oct 21
Addendum – Wildflower strips enhance wild bee reproductive success Oct 20