Nation of insect champions needed to reverse insect decline

Today The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report Reversing the Decline of Insects’ which shows how people, in every part of society, wherever they live, can take action to bring back insects. Everyone, everywhere, is being asked to become an insect champion.

The report cites examples of farmers, communities, councils and charities that are boosting insect populations and proving that it can be done.

The report comes at a critical time for insects. There is ongoing evidence for insect declines and the future of insects – and all life that depends on them – hangs in the balance as trade deals threaten to increase the use of insect-harming pesticides. Furthermore, the Agriculture Bill is progressing through Parliament presenting a unique opportunity to ensure farmers pursue insect-friendly farming methods.

Today’s publication follows the Insect declines and why they matter’ report, launched last year, which examined mounting evidence that insect populations are close to collapse and concluded that “the consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing.”

The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to reverse the decline of insects by:

  • Setting an ambitious pesticide reduction target, as good as, if not better than, the EU’s target to reduce by 50% the overall use of – and risk from – chemical pesticides by 2030
  • No weakening of UK pesticide standards through future trade deals
  • Support for farmers to adopt insect-friendly farming practices

The Wildlife Trusts believe that reversing the decline of insects is possible if:

  • A network of nature-rich areas is created covering at least 30% of the UK, and legally binding targets are set for nature’s recovery which are monitored and enforced
  • Localcouncils prioritise green recovery and create more nature-rich places where insects can thrive and make cities, towns and parishes pesticide-free
  • Everyone steps up to become an insect champion

Dr Gary Mantle MBE, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust says:

The message is clear: the diversity and abundance of insects can recover if we stop the unnecessary use of pesticides and create places where they can thrive. The UK government must lead the way with a new pesticide reduction target for the whole country; then it’s up to all of us to help turn this situation around.

Lead author of the report, Professor Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex says:

If we get it right for insects we get it right for everything else. Insects are the canaries in the coal mine – their collapse is an alarm bell that we must not ignore. Action is needed from every section of society – we all need to change this together.

Reversing the Decline of Insects’ focuses on several examples of what can be done by everyone to halt and reverse this crisis. From the road verges of Stirling and Kent, to farms in Northern Ireland and Devon, the chalk streams of Wiltshire, and the urban greenspaces of Lambeth and Manchester, it highlights some of the many people and projects that are making a real difference for insects.

A new survey of over a thousand people who have already signed-up to take Action for Insects with The Wildlife Trusts, reveals the most popular actions people have been taking:

  • 84% have left some of their gardens to go wild
  • 83% have planted things that insects like
  • 74% have built homes for insects such as log piles or bug hotel

The report - Reversing the Decline of Insects can be downloaded here.

Anyone interested in joining the campaign can do so with a handy free guide. Your Community Guide to taking Action for Insects and Your Guide to Taking Action for Insects are available at www.wildlifetrusts.org/take-action-insects. They include information and tips on insect-friendly gardening, going chemical-free and other small actions that will help stop the decline of insects.

Sign up to Take Action For Insects today!

Cover photo credit: Katrina Martin 2020VISION