Defra launches National Pollinator Strategy draft action plan

Defra has published its National Pollinator Strategy draft action plan, which is a response to the problems faced by bees and other pollinators in the UK and what needs to be done to reverse declines.

The proposed strategy which was published today involves:

  • 12 actions on evidence-gathering on pollinator status and impacts of pressures.
  • 18 priority policy actions for Government and for others to implement from 2014 reflecting current evidence and in some cases building on and expanding current initiatives to refocus on the essential needs of pollinators.
  • A commitment to review and refresh the strategy’s aims and actions as additional evidence becomes available.

Responses can be made here.

Friends of the Earth criticised the proposal which it says is weak and does not do enough to tackle intensive farming and pesticides' impact on bees.
 
But Guy Smith, vice president of the NFU which was involved in the creation of the strategy said: "As managers of agricultural and horticultural land and custodians of much of the wider countryside, farmers and growers have a huge amount to offer in terms of helping to tackle problems faced by pollinators.
 
"We need to encourage their involvement and part of this will rely on today’s farmers and growers getting due recognition that they are part of the solution for pollinators, rather than hit them again with the ‘agricultural intensification’ stick and blame them as the cause of the problem.

"Farming can and does continue to deliver real benefits for pollinators, through continuing development of Integrated Pest Management techniques across the industry and uptake of positive management to provide food and a home for pollinators, such as the voluntary measures promoted in the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.

"The NFU realises that pollinators are an incredibly emotive subject which is why, throughout, our main aim was to ensure that this consultation was balanced and based on sound science and evidence."
 
The NFU will now be liaising with its membership before responding in detail to the consultation which closes on May 2 2014.

The Government agreed to introduce a National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) at a Bee Summit organised by Friends of the Earth last year.
 
Friends of the Earth said the report failed to tackle intensive farming's "huge impact on the decline in the population of bees and other pollinators" and that Government proposals for confronting this "are generally weak, vague and reliant on entirely voluntary actions".
 
It also said the Defra document offers "little determination to tackle rising pesticide use", "little onus on developers to safeguard pollinators", that "funding for the strategy is unclear or inadequate"".
The NFU says £500,000 is pledged this year.
A Defra representative said: "We take this issue seriously which is why we are leading on a nationwide strategy for pollinators. This is a consultation document and we will continue to discuss our proposals with all interested parties.

"A key part of our approach is to address the current lack of evidence so we can better understand what future action may be necessary."

Neonicotinoids were taken off the shelves last year.


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