The National Pollinator Strategy was launched yesterday (4 November 2014) by Environment Minister Liz Truss. The strategy has been many months in the making and appears (judging by reactions reported in the media such as on the BBC and in the Guardian) to have widespread, if occasionally qualified, support from a large number of organisations and individuals.
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) is one of two academic partners represented on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for the strategy project and our science is integral to delivering its aims.
References in the strategy to CEH work include:
- The Insect Pollinators Initiative. Dr Adam Vanbergen of CEH was scientific coordinator of this £10 million research programme (2009 to 2014), jointly funded by the Biology and Biotechnology Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, Defra and the Scottish Government. Dr Claire Carvell of CEH led one of the IPI-funded projects, investigating how habitat structure affected queen and worker bumblebees in the field, collaborating with CEH colleagues and researchers from UEA, the Zoological Society of London and Bristol University.
- Our large-scale UK-wide surveys and monitoring programmes. CEH coordinates the Countryside Survey and Environmental Change Network.
- Our agri-environment research, with recent examples including studies on genetic diversity in bumblebees and crop flower visitation by honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees.
The National Pollinator Strategy refers to an existing evidence base, and makes a number of comments on future evidence requirements. The strategy is intended to lay out a 10-year roadmap for actions and lays out a number of key evidence gaps.
The science carried out at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is crucial to both understanding the current evidence base and addressing those gaps. In addition to the ongoing projects mentioned above, over the next five years scientists at CEH will:
- Develop and test a new systematic and sustainable monitoring framework for pollinators to be implemented by professionals and by using a “citizen science” approach involving volunteers logging observations and gathering other evidence*.
- Undertake research to quantify the impact on honeybees of two commercial neonicotinoids seed treatments in commercially grown crops of oilseed rape (‘Clothianidin’ Bayer CropScience and ‘Thiamethoxam’ Syngenta). CEH researchers have designed, and are overseeing the delivery of this pan-European, field experiment.
*The project was commissioned by Defra in summer 2014 and is being undertaken by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Leeds University, Reading University and the Open University, and entomology experts (Hymettus) and volunteers from recording schemes and societies (Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society; Hoverfly Recording Scheme; Bumblebee Conservation Trust; Butterfly Conservation and British Trust for Ornithology).
Plan bee: New measures to protect pollinators BBC News - 4 November 2014
Insect Pollinators Initiative Dissemination Event CEH blog post - 24 October 2014