Insects: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 15th March 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the study published in the journal Biological Conservation entitled Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers, what steps his Department will take to reverse the decline of the insect population.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The study referred to by the Rt. Hon. Member highlights a global issue that requires both global and national action.

UK scientists have been at the forefront of delivering assessments by the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The IPBES global assessment for pollinators concluded that wild pollinators, including many insect groups, have declined in Europe and North America. Data deficiencies precluded assessment in other parts of the world. Regional assessments came to similar conclusions for wider biodiversity, including insects. In Europe, for example, ongoing strong declines were identified in most species groups.

The UK Government acknowledges and is committed to addressing the declines. Internationally, we are determined to play a leading role in the development of an ambitious strategy under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, when its current framework expires in 2020. At the most recent Conference of the Parties to the Convention, in November 2018, we supported action such as the adoption of a global plan for the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators.

At the national level, the Government’s indicators of the abundance of UK butterflies show long term declines since 1976 but no significant change since 2012. Our indicator of pollinating insects in the UK tells a similar story - overall distribution has declined since 1980 but has stabilised in recent years. We are keeping these trends under review as encouraging but not yet definitive signs of progress.

The Government gathers further data on the status of UK pollinators through a UK-wide pollinator monitoring and research partnership, established in collaboration with research institutes and volunteer organisations.

The 25 Year Environment Plan commits to improving the status of insects and each of the four countries of the UK has its own strategy to protect pollinators. We will continue to work in partnership with scientists and practitioners for future generations to inherit a better environment.

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