Archive for March, 2011
Government releases honeybee review of neonicotinoid pesticide – but what about our wild pollinators?
10th March 2011
Buglife and other environmental charities are very concerned that Government inaction means that controversial neonicotinoid pesticides are continuing to damage bees and other wildlife; this is despite a newly released Government report claiming that field studies show “no gross effects” on Honeybees.
There is a growing pile of independent, published scientific evidence of damage to bees and other pollinators from these pesticides.In contrast the key field studies that the Government report relies on were funded by the pesticide company, have not been published and have not been subject to open examination.
Matt Shardlow, Buglife Chief Executive said “We welcome the publication of this report, for the first time it is clear what evidence the Government has been relying on to license the use of these potentially environmentally destructive chemicals,”
“However, the release of this Government report has not put us at ease.It focuses almost entirely on Honeybees, and while the health of domestic bees is important, more than 90% of pollination is done by wild bees, hoverflies, moths and other insects.”
“There is nothing in the report that leads to a conclusion that the chemicals are safe for the environment.Indeed, one study quoted showed even bigger impacts on solitary bees than on Honeybees.” ..
Volunteers play a vital role in ensuring that a range of valuable long-term datasets continue to survive, a team of scientists will say.
They argue that without citizen scientists, it would be too costly to carry out regular monitoring surveys.
However, they add that appropriate training is needed to allay concerns about inaccurate recordings.
The researchers from Oxford University will present their case at the Earthwatch annual lecture on Thursday.
“Government and research councils’ funding wants you to test hypotheses and produce very specific, short-term high-impact results, ” said Chris Newman, one of the researchers from the university’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) who will be making the presentation. [Read full article]
Mark Kinver, BBC News
Comment: I found the following statement quite startling: “For example, the US House of Representatives voted in 1993 to ban the National Biological Survey from accepting the services of volunteers”. If such a policy was ever applied to environmental NGO’s in the UK the whole biodiverity information gathering process would grind to a halt! Amateur natural historians have formed the backbone of natural history recording since Victorian times.
Current evidence demonstrates that a sixth major extinction of biological diversity event is underway. The Earth is losing between one and ten percent of biodiversity per decade, mostly due to habitat loss, pest invasion, pollution, over-harvesting and disease. Certain natural ecosystem services are vital for human societies.
Many fruit, nut, vegetable, legume, and seed crops depend on pollination. Pollination services are provided both by wild, free-living organisms (mainly bees, but also to name a few many butterflies, moths and flies), and by commercially managed bee species. Bees are the predominant and most economically important group of pollinators in most geographical regions.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)4 estimates that out of some 100 crop species which provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 of these are bee-pollinated. In Europe alone, 84% of the 264 crop species are animal pollinated and 4 000 vegetable varieties exist thanks to pollination by bees. The production value of one tonne of pollinator-dependent crop is approximately five times higher than one of those crop categories that do not depend on insects6.
Has a “pollinator crisis” really been occurring during recent decades, or are these concerns just another sign of global biodiversity decline? Several studies have highlighted different factors leading to the pollinators’ decline that have been observed around the world. This bulletin considers the latest scientific findings and analyses possible answers to this question. As the bee group is the most important pollinator worldwide, this bulletin focuses on the instability of wild and managed bee populations, the driving forces, potential mitigating measures and recommendations.
Some relevant discussion over at Myrmecos blog