For some time now there has been increasing concern about the plight of the Bumblebee but this extends further to include pollinators in general, wildflowers and the insects that rely on these flowers. Sarah Raven’s BBC2 programme ‘Bees, Butterflies and Blooms,’ the first episode of which aired last night, is a timely and important reminder of the swathes of wildflower habitats that have been lost in this country during the course of the last century and the detrimental impact that this has had on pollinators and other insects, let alone the survival of wildflower species and the landscape as a whole.
As with so many environmental catastrophes created by mankind, it is only when we are at a state of crisis that we begin to try and repair the damage. It can only be hoped that campaigns such as Sarah Raven’s and others start to really get into the public consciousness and cause a change in the general attitude towards how we manage our environments, both urban and rural.
It is shocking to think that it is in rural areas where the problem is greatest; monoculture farming, the removal of hedgerows, and the use of pesticides is nothing but destructive and it is time that such practices were addressed more forcefully than they currently are. We can no longer plead ignorance about their impact.
Of course there needs to be some sort of economic benefit for farmers, otherwise they just won’t get on with planting wildflower strips on the margins of their fields to increase biodiversity (this is a reality that unfortunately can’t be escaped; money seems always to trump any environmental concern); education on the subject, at all levels, doubtless needs to be improved also.
The other despairing thing about the programme was the palpable reluctance of many of the folk of Creaton, Northamptonshire to give over even a small part of the vast village green to wildflowers (should a Parish Council really be able to delay or even completely reject a plan of this kind?). It seems that unless a TV camera is on-hand such things are easily swept under the carpet. The old photograph of the green full and alive was far more appealing to my mind than the perfectly clipped state the village green currently exists in. Hopefully the villagers will now press forward and do more and be a beacon to others to do the same.
So there we have it. Simple really: learn, campaign and practice what you preach and maybe attitudes and practices will change. The RHS has developed the ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ label after being approached by Sarah Raven to support her campaign. A full list of these plants is available as a PDF.
Other sites to look at:
Article on Biodiversity and Agriculture from Global Food Security