Urgent review launched into bee population decline

 

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The Government is launching an “urgent and comprehensive” review of why bees are declining and what is being done to help them.

Many species of bee and other pollinating insects including butterflies, moths and hoverflies have experienced declines in recent decades, raising concerns about the impacts on food supplies, gardens and the countryside.

Factors including use of pesticides, loss of habitat and more intensive agriculture are thought to be to blame.

The review will look at current policies, the evidence on what is happening to pollinators and what action charities and businesses are taking to help the insects, Environment Minister Lord de Mauley will announce in a speech.

The work will identify what needs to be done to help bees and other insects, and will form the basis of a "national pollinator strategy" which will bring together all the initiatives already under way and help develop new action.

Lord de Mauley will tell a Bee Summit organised by Friends of the Earth: "We must develop a better understanding of the factors that can harm these insects and the changes that government, other organisations and individuals can make to help."

The Government has come under fire for opposing European moves to ban "neonicotinoid" pesticides which have been linked to bee declines, but Lord de Mauley said bees would be vulnerable with or without restrictions on insecticides.

"I do not deny for a moment that it is important to regulate pesticides effectively and to avoid unnecessary pesticide use."

But he will tell the conference: "Changes in land use, the type of crops grown, alien species, climate change - these all have an impact. The relative importance of these factors and their interactions is not well understood."

The review will begin with the launch of a report on current government policy and initiatives in England, while in September a series of workshops will bring experts together to discuss the issue.

And independent experts will look at the evidence on the state of UK pollinating insects, he will announce.

Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins said: "We're delighted that enormous pressure for a Bee Action Plan from scientists, businesses and the public has stung the Government into action.

"We all agree prompt measures are needed to tackle all the threats bees and other pollinators face, but an urgent and comprehensive route map and timetable are needed to ensure this happens.

"The Minister's plan of action must be in place when bees emerge from hibernation next spring - we can't afford to gamble any longer with our food, countryside and economy."

PA

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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