To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 32 of the National Pollinator Strategy, published by his Department in November 2014, what progress has been made on extending the monitoring and evaluation framework for nature improvement areas to include pollinators.
The National Pollinator Strategy was launched in November 2014 and included commitments on measuring progress by developing an indicator on the status of pollinators and by evaluating Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) and agri-environment schemes.
Defra has developed an indicator of the status of pollinating insects in partnership with the research community and the voluntary sector. The indicator was first published in 2014 and integrated into the suite of 24 indicators used to track progress with Biodiversity 2020: our Strategy for England’s Wildlife and Ecosystem Services. The indicator summarises trends for almost 400 pollinating insect species and was last published on3 August (www.gov.uk/government/statistics/england-biodiversity-indicators). It shows that the overall status of pollinating insects has declined since 1980. There are, however, early indications that this trend may have stabilised in recent years. We will continue to take action for pollinators as set out in our Pollinator Strategy and encourage others to do the same through our Bees’ Needs campaign.
The monitoring and evaluation framework for NIAs was updated in 2014 and included two voluntary indicators on population of threatened or widespread species, including a number of pollinating insects.
A report on monitoring and evaluation of NIAs was published in 2015 (www.gov.uk/government/publications/nature-improvement-areas-improved-ecological-networks/nature-improvement-areas-about-the-programme). This found no significant change in any of the species indicators in the NIAs over the short period involved. Collectively, however, the 12 NIAs secured beneficial management on over 13,500 ha of important wildlife habitats and put in place action to create 4,500 ha of new habitats, primarily species rich grasslands and heathland which will provide important sources of pollen and nectar for pollinating insects.
For agri-environment schemes, Natural England has a contract in place with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the British Trust for Ornithology to provide a landscape-scale evaluation of the impact of Countryside Stewardship in England on mobile species, including pollinators. Initial findings are expected in 2018.
Since 2015, we have initiated a pollinator monitoring and research partnership with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, to strengthen pollinator monitoring across Great Britain and improve our capacity to understand trends in pollination services. Details of the partnership are available on the external Centre for Ecology and Hydrology website.