Target: Nature England
Goal: Tell the UK to join other European nations in adopting measures to protect fragile honeybee populations
Honeybees play a fundamental role in pollinating the majority of crops worldwide, but are undergoing a widespread decline due to threats from pesticide use, disease, and loss of habitat. The Guardian reports that poor weather conditions in 2012 resulted in “the death of a third of all honeybee colonies in England.” According to conservation trust Buglife, “The value of pollinators in the UK is estimated to be around £510 million per year, with over 250 pollinators threatened with extinction.” In this petition, we urge the UK to support other European nations in adopting measures to protect these essential pollinators.
The EU recently passed a ban on Fipronil, a popular insecticide that posed a high risk to honeybees. This decision was seen as an important step in recognizing the honeybee crisis facing Europe and working toward a comprehensive strategy to protect honeybee populations. However, the UK was one of few countries that abstained from the vote, as well as previously opposing attempts to ban harmful neonicotinoid pesticides.
In spite of their recent pledge to develop a national pollinator strategy to protect honeybees, the UK’s consistent refusal to support restrictions on pesticide use is troubling. The government’s published pesticides plan also failed to establish specific timetables and targets for reducing pesticides. As stated by Paul de Zylva, of Friends of the Earth, ”The UK government must now prove its commitment to reversing bee decline.”
Around 40,000 bumblebee colonies are imported in the UK annually, over three-quarters of which are tainted with pesticides. This contamination threatens vulnerable native bee populations by killing them off immediately or blocking their ability to learn and find food. While the suppliers of these colonies claim to be disease-free, DNA testing has revealed otherwise. Natural England, the government’s environmental and wildlife advisor, doesn’t currently regulate imported bee colonies or screen them for disease.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has stated that “pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment.” It’s time the government follow through with concrete action to prevent the further decimation of honeybees. Recommendations include long-term monitoring of pollinators to determine which practices are effective and intensive screening of all imported bee colonies by an independent agency to guarantee their disease-free status.
Dear Nature England,
The UK’s record on protecting honeybees is inconsistent, as it has opposed recent bans on insecticide proven to threaten these essential pollinators. The government’s plans to restrict pesticides are ambiguous and unlikely to spur comprehensive reform to reverse the decline of honeybees. We demand the UK follow through on its promise to address threatened honeybee populations.
As the advisor for protecting the natural environment and wildlife in the UK, you must recognize the serious ramifications of the loss of honeybees and take swift action to prevent their further decline. This will require an overhaul of the nation’s policies on pesticides, screenings for imported bee colonies, and more effective monitoring of honeybee pollination. As the EU moves forward with new measures to combat the honeybee decline, we hope the UK will join in supporting efforts to protect honeybees.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jacopo Werther via Wikimedia Commons