Raising the ALARM for Pollinator Decline in Europe

New research conducted under the EU-funded ALARM project (Assessing LArge scale environmental Risks for biodiversity with tested Methods) has identified land-use practices and agrochemical use as the main pressures causing a decline in pollinating insects, including bees, in Europe. It is estimated that 84% of European crop species depend on insect pollination to some extent.

The researchers analysed links between agriculture and pollinators using the ‘Driving forces – Pressures – State – Impact – Response’ (DPSIR) framework. They identified five major pressures on pollinators: land-use; agrochemicals; parasites/ diseases; competition between species (caused by humans) and climate change. Bees were the most affected by all of these pressures, apart from climate change, which had the greatest impact on butterflies.

EU land-use practices are driven most strongly by the CAP. Although environmental policies have recently become more integrated into the CAP, Agri-environment measures form only 8% of the total CAP budget to 2013; despite the influence of these schemes in supporting specific farming practices which protect the environment and maintain the countryside.

To boost pollinator numbers, the researchers call for an increase in the funding provided for agri-environment schemes under the CAP, for an increase in the areas of flower-rich natural grassland and croplands with leguminous plants and for a decrease in the use of agrochemicals, all of which would foster a greater diversity of organisms and landscapes, necessary for bee survival.

Orginal article: Science for Environment Policy

Original research: Kuldna, P., Peterson, K. Poltimäe, H. & Luig, J. (2009). An application of DPSIR framework to identify issues of pollinator loss. Ecological Economics. 69:32-42.

The BES ran an event at the British Science Festival in 2009, focused on bumblebees and the importance of providing a haven for pollinators in your garden. Find out more and see some of the press coverage we generated.