SAVE THE BEES: ban the use of chemical pesticides in public spaces & plant flowers instead

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Bee decline since the late 1990s has become a serious problem. Beekeepers around the world have noticed unusually high rates of decline in honeybee colonies, and unfortunately, this is not all about a decline in the availability of honey.

Bees are key to food production, as they are vital in the pollination of crops. One-third of the food we eat depends on pollinating insects, and in Europe alone, 4,000 vegetables depend on insect pollination. If this trend of decline continues, crop yield, which already faces a multitude of challenges, will diminish further.

The UK is falling behind in the fight to protect these indispensable species. Since 2010 there has been a 45% loss of commercial honeybees in the UK.

The UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, although conscious of risks to water quality and plant protection, ironically fails to acknowledge the need to protect insects, who are vital in the protection of plant species. This plan fails to prevent pesticides from being used in public spaces. When an area is sprayed with more pesticides, agricultural structural elements are lost, and insects vanish.

As such, more needs to be done to prevent this and protect the invaluable species of bees before it's too late.

Cities like Amsterdam might have found the solution. Like the rest of the world, it's bee population has been in steep decline. However, since 2000, whilst this trend has continued for the rest of the world, Amsterdam's bee population has risen by 40%. Planting native flowers in public spaces (such as in parks and on street corners), installing insect homes across the city, and introducing a ban on the use of chemical pesticides in public spaces has enabled Amsterdam's bee population to bloom.

The UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides does not include such a prohibition on the use of chemical pesticides, only: "in certain areas (including public spaces and conservation areas) that the amount used and frequency of use is as low as reasonably practicable."

If we are truly committed to saving bees, the species which uphold so much of our wildlife and food production, we need to take this further and ban the use of chemical pesticides in public spaces and provide bees with an environment in which they can thrive.

Our lives depend on theirs.