Action for Insects
We need a nation of insect champions to stop and reverse insect losses
41% of insect species face extinction.
The loss of their habitats and overuse of pesticides are two major reasons why insects are dying out eight times faster than large mammals.
We 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
Wildlife killing pesticides could be phased out forever, if you add your voice
Defra has released a draft of the new National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) for consultation. The NAP is where the government lays out their plans to reduce the risks and harms from pesticides on human health and the environment. It HAS to be strong, and it HAS to be ambitious. We have responded detailing what needs to be included in the NAP if we are to have any hope of reversing the alarming decline of our insects and recovering nature.
Can you speak up for our wildlife and support our call for pesticide action?
Will the PM do the right thing?
On 8th January the UK Government took a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for our insects. This was to allow farmers to treat sugar beet seed with the banned substance thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid, as an emergency option to help against the beet yellows virus. Read more here
The Wildlife Trust's new report ‘Reversing the Decline of Insects’ 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 cites examples of farmers, communities, councils and charities that are boosting insect populations and proving that it can be done.
The government announce ban on metaldehyde slug pellets. This banning of this toxic chemical is certainly a step in the right direction! Read more here...
Tell me more...
We know what needs to be done to bring insects back:
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 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
See below for more information
The Wildlife Trust's position on pesticides and wildlife
Don’t farmers need pesticides to grow enough food?
In many parts of Britain, traditional family farms have given way to large agri-businesses, typified by large fields, often managed by external contractors, maintained as near perfect monocultures by high inputs of pesticides and fertilizers.
The result is a landscape that produces more food, more cheaply, than it used to, but is largely inhospitable to wildlife and provides employment for very few people. The low price of food on the supermarket shelves that we have become used to does not reflect the true environmental costs of its production. It is also important to note that farmers only receive a fraction of the retail sale price of food, so the cost of improved on-farm practice would have a relatively small impact on shoppers.
Recent studies from France estimate that total pesticide use can be reduced by 42% without significant reductions to yield or profit
France is one of the biggest consumers of pesticides in Europe (per unit of agricultural area). In 2013, after controversy over levels of pesticide concentration in drinking water, the French government set a target of a 50% decrease in pesticide use, promoting the principles of agroecology and advocating integrated management of pests for a reduction of pesticide reliance.
Food security and economic impacts were a major consideration for policy advisors and researchers:
“We demonstrated that low pesticide use rarely decreases productivity and proﬁtability in arable farms. We analysed the potential conﬂicts between pesticide use and productivity or proﬁtability with data from 946 non-organic arable commercial farms showing contrasting levels of pesticide use and covering a wide range of production situations in France. We failed to detect any conﬂict between low pesticide use and both high productivity and high proﬁtability in 77% of the farms.” Lechenet et al. 2017
How do I stop my plants and vegetables being eaten if I don’t use pesticides in my garden?
Gardening without harmful chemicals is a good way to ensure that the food and plants you grow are pesticide free and can still thrive without using products that are harmful to our wildlife. If you’ve used chemicals in the past, this might sound like an invitation to every pest for miles around to shred your garden ... and that might well happen at first. But, with time and patience, you’ll end up with a rewarding, healthier garden for ditching the chemicals.
Spraying to deal with pests can often kill the predators too, or at least make them want to avoid your garden. When you stop using chemicals, aphids are the first creatures to return as they have a short breeding cycle. Their predators may take longer to come back, but stick with it and know it will be better in the long run! Our Action for Insects for the home has lots of advice and tips for how you can garden without chemicals including advice on companion planting and alternatives to chemicals.
In the end you’ll wonder why you ever needed chemicals in the first place.
We can’t turn the clock back to how things used to be so what can we do today?
We can turn our cities, towns, villages and gardens into a buzzing network of insect-friendly habitats. We have about ½ million hectares of gardens in the UK, plus city parks and green spaces, school playing fields, railway embankments and cuttings, road verges and roundabouts; if managed favourably, and if we avoid pesticide use these areas could go a long way towards creating a national ‘Nature Recovery Network’.
250,000 miles of road verges. More could be managed for wildlife by sowing insect friendly seed mixes, mowing later in the year, and removing the cuttings. Green bridges should be a part of transport infrastructure projects.
430,000 hectares of gardens. Wildflowers in gardens have huge potential to help pollinators such as bees. A network of small patches could help bees thrive in urban areas.
52 million people. 80% of the UK’s population live in urban areas. New parks, street trees, green roofs and walls are an important way to help everyone experience nature in daily life.
Our public spaces. Two thirds of amenity land is short mown grass, but meadow habitats support eight times more wildlife. Just allowing more flower species in the grass, and mowing some areas less frequently has been shown to be of huge benefit to insects. Greener and more biodiverse neighbourhoods provide health and wellbeing benefits for people.
Our farmland. 70% of UK land is farmland, so making our farms more wildlife friendly and sustainable is vital
The Wildlife Trusts are calling for at least 30% of our land and sea to be connected and protected for nature’s recovery by 2030. This project is helping us to achieve that ambition. You can help today by making a donation or by joining us as a member to help fund more projects like this, that will help to create and protect a nature-rich environment to benefit wildlife and people.