It’s no longer safe for a bee or hoverfly living in a nature reserve. Or, for that matter, any area being managed for wildlife such as our meadows. The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has found evidence that protected areas in Britain such as Sites of Scientific Interest or National Nature Reserves are losing their invertebrate species (that’s insects) at the same rate as those areas with no protection.
The study carried out by ecologists at the CEH, included 1238 species of ants, bees, hoverflies, ladybirds, spiders and wasps. It found that ‘while protected areas harboured greater species diversity than unprotected areas, over time, they lost species at the same rate. Pollinators such as bees and hoverflies were particularly prone to losses.’ Insects provide the foundation of many ecosystems and if critical numbers are lost, then the knock-on effect is immediate and serious.
The CEO of Buglife said that this research highlights ‘landscape and institutional change’ that needs to happen but this is not happening fast enough, in fact it appears to be going the other way at the moment in the UK, with the Government’s present policy of amending or scraping crucial environmental laws in a bid to do away with EU-derived legislation by the end of the 2023. This legislation must be amended! So all the more reason why we need to let our law makers be aware of the serious need for rethinking. He also said ‘worryingly, many of our most internationally endangered invertebrate species do not even occur within the protected sites network.’
NATURE is in crisis. The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth and almost half our species are in decline. At COP26 the UK advertised itself as a global leader on climate action but despite containing valuable new commitments, 570 environmental laws and hundreds more covering every government department are being lined up to be removed or rewritten in UK law by the Retained EU Law, set to come into effect on December 31st 2023. New bills will be written, but this puts vital wildlife and environmental protection at risk while the process trundles on.
These include the habitat regulations that have been vital in the protection of places for wildlife in the last 30 years and laws covering the release of nitrates and phosphates into rivers. The Government has said that some protections are a burden to economic growth.
Globally we have lost 69% of our biodiversity (all species on earth) since the 1970s so this is just as catastrophic as climate change and indeed climate change among other factors has driven these alarming trends.
So if you missed our special bulletin sent on October 6th last year, please do write to your MP. It is Jo Churchill MP in Bury. Tell her that the laws in place, such as the Habitats regulations are most certainly not a burden, quite the opposite. To help you write to Jo Churchill, the Wildlife Trusts have a defend nature campaign, encouraging you to write your objections on the back of a postcard and either email or print it out. If you are writing a letter address it to: Jo Churchill MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. Plenty of background reading is available if you email here.
On a more positive note, in the early hours of Monday December 19th 2022, a global biodiversity treaty was agreed at the COP15 UN biodiversity summit in Montreal Canada. Nations have agreed to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030 and there will be targets for protecting vital ecosystems such as rainforests and wetlands including the rights of indigenous people. This is not the climate COP but the goals of the new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework are to protect land and water. Ambitious, but we wait with bated breath!
photo credits: flower beetle on hogweed Jillian Macready, Kestrel Christopher Cross