The Secretary of State has asked officials to undertake an urgent review of the health and value of bees and other pollinators. We must develop a better understanding of the various factors that threaten populations of these beneficial insects and the changes that government, other organisations and individuals can make to counter their impact. This review will form the basis of a National Pollinator Strategy to bring together all the pollinator-friendly initiatives already underway and to provide an umbrella for new action.
Declines in the health and populations of bees and other pollinators are seen globally as posing risks to biodiversity, long-term food security and ultimately human health.
Pollinators are an essential component of England’s agriculture and the diversity of its animal and plant life. Many of our agricultural and horticultural crops (such as oilseed rape, orchard fruit, soft fruit and field beans) rely, at least in part, on visits by insect pollinators (bumble bees, honey bees, solitary bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, hoverflies) to produce seeds and fruits. They also contribute to the diversity of wild plant species, habitats and wildlife in England, as well as its resilience and natural beauty.
Our pollinators face many threats and there are growing concerns that these threats are leading to declines in diversity and the geographical ranges of individual species. There is no single threat that seems to be driving this change; intensification in land-use, habitat loss, pests, diseases, invasive species, inappropriate use of agrochemicals and climate change are all thought to be playing a part.
This document reviews current and proposed government-led policies and initiatives across seven policy areas for England and provides an initial assessment of where they are already or could benefit pollinators by reducing these pressures.