Bee action plan expected on 4 November

Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association have issued a warning ahead of Defra’s bee action plan publication.

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Ahead of the Government’s unveiling of the Government’s action plan to reverse the decline of Britain’s bees, Friends of the Earth is warning it must contain “strong measures” to make UK farms and land use far more bee-friendly in order to be effective.

Friends of the Earth says the National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) must be considerably improved from draft versions to address the root causes of bee decline, by providing the right policy framework, support and incentives to ensure that farmers, land owners and developers are supported to reduce pesticide use, protect and create vital bee habitats to provide the food and shelter bees need across the UK.

Friends of the Earth senior nature campaigner Paul de Zylva said: “People around country are doing their bit making their gardens and allotments good for bees – the Government must now do its bit too to transform our farms, housing estates, parks and roadsides into habitat-rich, chemical-free spaces.

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“Reversing bee decline for good depends on the Government producing an effective Bee Action Plan that tackles all the threats bees face, especially from pesticides and a lack of habitat on farms and new developments.

“Britain’s hard working bees deserve a first not third-rate Bee Action Plan – it’s time the Government delivered.”

Friends of the Earth campaigners in Westminster have delivered a petition to Environment Secretary Liz Truss, which urges her not to delay the NPS further and ensure it contains “ambitious action” for bees.

The results of Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count last week found that allotments were best for bees while parks and roadsides need improving. More than 23,000 people used a smartphone app to take part in the 12-week citizen science project this summer, spotting 830,000 bees in total.
Friends of the Earth wants farmers to cut pesticide use and to have bee habitats such as ancient meadows protected and managed.

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said: “This is the first time a government wildlife strategy has recognised the benefits of organic farms to pollinators. Nonetheless, these efforts, as well as those of many gardeners across the country, are being totally undone by the mass spraying of insecticides and weed killers on farmland, along with the deadly impact of neonicotinoid seed dressings. The Soil Association will continue to campaign for neonicotinoids to be banned.”

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