Photo by Jon Hawkins/Surrey Hills Photography

New report calls for ambitious pesticide reduction target


Friday 10 July, 2020


Today The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report Reversing the decline of insects which shows how people, in every part of society, wherever they live, can take action to bring back insects. Everyone, everywhere, is being asked to become an insect champion.

The report comes at a critical time for insects. There is ongoing evidence for insect declines and the future of insects – and all life that depends on them – hangs in the balance as trade deals threaten to increase the use of insect-harming pesticides. Furthermore, the Agriculture Bill is progressing through Parliament presenting a unique opportunity to ensure farmers pursue insect-friendly farming methods.The report cites examples of farmers, communities, councils and charities that are boosting insect populations and proving that it can be done.

Today’s publication follows the Insect declines and why they matter’ report, launched last year, which examined mounting evidence that insect populations are close to collapse and concluded that “the consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing.”
 

The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to reverse the decline of insects by:

  • Setting an ambitious pesticide reduction target, as good as, if not better than, the EU’s proposed target to reduce by 50% the overall use of – and risk from – chemical pesticides by 2030
  • No weakening of UK pesticide standards through future trade deals
  • Support for farmers to adopt insect-friendly farming practices


The Wildlife Trusts believe that reversing the decline of insects is possible if:

  • A network of nature-rich areas is created covering at least 30% of the UK, and legally binding targets are set for nature’s recovery which are monitored and enforced
  • Local councils prioritise green recovery and create more nature-rich places where insects can thrive and make cities, towns and parishes pesticide-free
  • Everyone steps up to become an insect champion
 

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts says:

“In my lifetime 41% of wildlife species in UK have suffered strong or moderate decreases in their numbers and insects have suffered most. This has had a huge effect on the rest of the natural world. The vital role that insects perform is undermined and everything that depends on them suffers, from hedgehogs to nightingales, wildflowers to wetlands.

“Current trade deals threaten to make a bad situation worse. It’s up to the Government to ensure we maintain our current environmental standards, not let them slip and jeopardise the wildlife we have left. The Agriculture Bill is a golden opportunity to set high standards in law and make sure insect-friendly farming practices are rewarded.

“We want to see an ambitious pesticide reduction target and at least 30% of land being managed for nature so that insects can become abundant once more. We’re calling on everyone to take action for insects and become an insect champion.”
 

Lead author of the report, Professor Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex says:

“If we get it right for insects we get it right for everything else. Insects are the canaries in the coal mine – their collapse is an alarm bell that we must not ignore. Action is needed from every section of society – we all need to change this together.”

Reversing the Decline of Insects’ focuses on several examples of what can be done by everyone to halt and reverse this crisis. From the road verges of Stirling and Kent, to farms in Northern Ireland and Devon, the chalk streams of Wiltshire, and the urban greenspaces of Lambeth and Manchester, it highlights some of the many people and projects that are making a real difference for insects.

A new survey of over a thousand people who have already signed-up to take Action for Insects with The Wildlife Trusts, reveals the most popular actions people have been taking:

  • 84% have left some of their gardens to go wild
  • 83% have planted things that insects like
  • 74% have built homes for insects such as log piles or bug hotel
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