European Commission moves to step up protection of pollinators

European Commission moves to step up protection of pollinators
Credit: Belga

Bees, hoverflies, butterflies and other pollinators are not doing well. Populations have declined dramatically in recent decades, both in size and diversity, and many species are threatened with extinction.

An action plan presented on Tuesday by the European Commission seeks to address this "worrying decline" of wild, pollinating insects.

“We need immediate targeted action to save pollinators, as they are invaluable to our ecosystems, societies and economies,” said European Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.

Bee highways

The Commission had presented an initial plan, known as the 2018 EU Pollinators Initiative,' to turn the tide five years ago, but the EU’s executive board recognises that more is needed to reverse the decline by 2030.

The new plan - A new Deal for Pollinators - revises that initiative, with a focus not only on honeybees, but on the many thousands of wild pollinators in Europe.

There will be conservation plans for endangered pollinator species, measures to strengthen habitats and, together with member States, the Commission plans to create a blueprint for a network of so-called buzzing corridors or highways for bees.

Halving pesticide use by 2030

One of the causes of pollinator decline is pesticides. The EU has already set a goal of halving their use by 2030. In the meantime, the Commission undertakes to tighten pesticide risk assessment and take measures to reduce the harmful effects of approved pesticides.

Finally, the Commission promises a new, comprehensive monitoring system to chart species decline. For example, more than half of the bee species lack data to assess their status.

About four out of five crop and wildflower species in Europe rely to a greater or lesser extent on pollination.

Over 1,000,000 support bee-friendly-farming initiative

The loss of pollinators poses one of the greatest threats to nature and food security, according to the Commission.

This has also resonated at the grassroots level. For example, a citizens’ initiative for bee-friendly agriculture has gathered more than one million signatures.

The Commission says it will respond later this year to that initiative, which was presented on Tuesday in the European Parliament.

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