Ecological Focus Areas: will planting peas and beans help bees?

It was announced yesterday that English arable farmers will be able to fulfill their Ecological Focus Area requirement under the new Common Agricultural Policy by planting leguminous crops - peas, beans and other pulses – on 5% of their land. Ecological Focus Areas are one of the new compulsory greening measures, originally conceived as areas of land left out of production, or with low intensity production, managed or left alone to benefit wildlife.

Strategic pollinator conservation, English style

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The National Pollinators Strategy for England came out yesterday for consultation. In it, the Government outlines what it will do to help pollinators over the next 10 years.

Essentially it boils down to three things that are new:

• Provide targeted Government guidance on how to help pollinators
• Fund research to start filling in some glaring knowledge gaps
• Implement a new pollinator monitoring scheme from 2016.

Action for pollinators - things we can all agree on

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Pollinator decline is a complex challenge. There are many interacting threats, differing patterns of decline, and no obvious single solution. But here are FOUR actions for pollinators that we can all agree on.
 

Defra’s field research on neonicotinoids and bumblebees – what does it tell us?

Yesterday (26 March 2013), Defra published its field research on the effects of neonicotinoids on bumblebee colonies (Thompson et al 2013). Here is my understanding of the results.
 
The study finds fairly consistent exposure to neonicotinoids in free-living bumblebee colonies. One or more of the chemicals were found in at least some colonies at all three test sites, including the control site, which was next to a 6.5 ha field of oilseed rape not treated with neonicotinoid.
 

How much are neonicotinoids worth to the European economy?

Lynn Dicks explains why one headline from an industry-funded neonicotinoid report was disingenuous.
 
In January, a report commissioned by Bayer and Syngenta calculated the economic value of neonicotinoid insecticides to Europe [1]. These companies are the major manufacturers of neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that the European Commission proposes to partially ban from July because they pose unacceptable risks to bees.
 

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