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Gardening & Agriculture Gardening & Agriculture Pest control

The pollinators battle with pesticides, declining biodiversity and #climate change.

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by: Hans van der Broek
The pollinators battle with pesticides, declining biodiversity and #climate change.

The pollinators part 1 and Pesticides

Pesticides damage survival of bee colonies, landmark study shows. There has been strong evidence that neonicotinoids harm individual bees for some years but this has strengthened in the last year recently to show damage to colonies of bees. Other research has also revealed that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, prompting warnings of “ecological armageddon”.
In November 2017, environment secretary Michael Gove overturned the UK’s previous opposition to tougher restrictions on neonicotinoids. “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” Gove told the Guardian. “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”

The environment department’s chief scientist, Prof Ian Boyd, warned in September that the assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false. This followed other highly critical reports on pesticides, including research showing most farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and a UN report that denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world.

Total ban on bee-harming pesticides likely after major new EU analysis


Spraying crops with neonnicotinoids
Photo by: farmfutures.com

Analysis from EU’s scientific risk assessors finds neonicotinoids pose a serious danger to all bees, making total field ban highly likely. The world’s most widely used insecticides pose a serious danger to both honeybees and wild bees, according to a major new assessment from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors. The conclusion, based on analysis of more than 1,500 studies, makes it highly likely that the neonicotinoid pesticides will be banned from all fields across the EU when nations vote on the issue next month.
The report from the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), published on Wednesday, found that the risk to bees varied depending on the crop and exposure route, but that “for all the outdoor uses, there was at least one aspect of the assessment indicating a high risk.” Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees, such as damaging memory and reducing queen numbers.

Jose Tarazona, head of Efsa’s pesticides unit, said: “The availability of such a substantial amount of data has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions. There is variability in the conclusions (and) some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.”
The Efsa assessment includes bumblebees and solitary bees for the first time. It also identified that high risk to bees comes not from neonicotinoid use on non-flowering crops such as wheat, but from wider contamination of the soil and water which leads to the pesticides appearing in wildflowers or succeeding crops. A recent study of honey samples revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids.

The assessment was welcomed by many scientists and environmentalists. “This is an important announcement that most uses of neonicotinoids are a risk to all bee species,” said Prof Christopher Connolly, at the University of Dundee, UK. “The greatest risk to bees is from chronic exposure due to its persistence.” Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, said: “This report certainly strengthens the case for further restrictions on neonicotinoid use across Europe”.
“We have been playing Russian roulette with the future of our bees for far too long,” said Sandra Bell at Friends of the Earth. “EU countries must now back a tougher ban.” Several nations had been waiting for the Efsa report before deciding their position.
However, a spokesman for Syngenta, a neonicotinoid manufacturer, said: “Efsa sadly continues to rely on a [bee risk guidance] document that is overly conservative, extremely impractical and would lead to a ban of most if not all insecticides, including organic products.”
Matt Shardlow, at charity Buglife, said the risk guidance document should be urgently implemented to prevent another pesticide “blunder”. He said: “It is a tragedy that our bees, moths, butterflies and flies have been hammered by these toxins for over 15 years.”

In March 2017, the Guardian revealed draft regulations from the European commission which would ban neonicotinoids from all fields across Europe, citing “high acute risks to bees”. The chemicals could still be used in closed greenhouses. Efsa’s first assessment in January 2013 found “unacceptable” risks to bees from neonicotinoids and paved the way for the partial EU ban which was passed in April 2013. It banned the use of the three main neonicotinoids on flowering crops, principally oilseed rape, as they were seen as most attractive to bees.
Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, destruction of flower-rich habitat and, increasingly, the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

By: Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor

The pollinators part 2 and Biodiversity

Biodiversity is declining worldwide!
Many colorful animals forming biodiversity

Scientists warn that biodiversity is decreasing dangerously worldwide. This is not only bad for nature (pollinators) and ecosystem services, but also for the well-being of people. A decline in biodiversity affects the economy, the livelihood of people and food security. Is there also a bright spot? We have the knowledge to turn the tide, but now we have to get started.

The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as a global platform, maps out the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services and translates them into the meaning for society. After three years of hard work by more than 550 experts from 100 countries, they publish their latest report. With the most important conclusion: stop now with the non-sustainable use of nature and start restoring it. "Otherwise, we run the risk of the future we want to miss, including the ability to maintain our current standard of living," said IPBES Chairman Sir Robert Watson.

America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania

The IPBES report has divided the results among four regions in the world. Climate change is the greatest threat to biodiversity for North and South America. The consequence of climate change is a changing land use that will reduce the habitats of species. The habitats are already 31% smaller than for the European colonization, and are expected to decrease by 40% by 2050.
Africa is a rich, but also very vulnerable continent. Many large mammals are under great pressure; in addition, the continent also has many plants, fish, reptiles and birds for which the same applies. Almost 500,000 km2 of land has been depleted due to over-exploitation of natural resources, erosion and pollution. The result is that people who are already in a bad economic position will only get it harder. The fact that the African population is expected to double to 2.5 billion inhabitants by 2050 does not really help either.
Cut tree trunks, stobs
Photo by: himajiefebuh.com

In Southeast Asia and Oceania, coastal areas and fisheries are particularly affected by climate change. In addition, more and large quantities of invasive species occur. These are species that have ended up outside their original distribution area. If they end up in an environment where natural enemies are missing and prey are present without limit, this is a potential threat to local biodiversity.

Fortunately, success stories also exist in this region. In the past 25 years, 14 percent more protected sea areas have been added, and 0.3 percent more protected areas on land. In addition, 2.5 percent more forest has been created.

Europe and Central Asia

A major trend in Europe and Central Asia is the intensification of agriculture and forestry. This leads to a decrease in biodiversity. In addition, the population consumes more natural sources than the region produces. Strict policies and tax reforms at national and international level should support sustainable economic growth.

Turn the tide

Stable ecosystems can handle changes better. In order to be able to absorb the impact of climate change, it is therefore important that species are well protected and deterioration is halted. Fortunately, there are numerous examples that show that change in policy can indeed lead to protecting and restoring biodiversity. For example, by linking nature policy to economic benefits. However, major steps can also be taken by using local knowledge and involving the indigenous population in policy plans. The most important message is to work integrally and work together across borders.

This article is based on the summary of IPBES report. By: Channah Betting, Atlas Natural Capital

The pollinators part 3 and Climate change

Climate change threatens rare British orchid that tricks bees into mating. Researchers find that warmer temperatures are upsetting the seasonal relationship between the early spider orchid and pollinating bees.
Bee flying above yellow flower, blue sky
Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AP

It is one of the most cunning and elaborate reproductive deceits: the early spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) wafts a floral bouquet into the air that mimics the irresistible scent of a virgin female solitary mining bee, tricking gullible male bees into attempting intercourse with several flowers, thereby ensuring the plant’s pollination. But the sexual success of this rare and declining orchid in Britain is imperilled by climate change, researchers have found.

The orchid’s ruse only works if a female mining bee, Andrena nigroaenea, has not emerged from hibernation, because as soon as this happens, the orchid cannot compete with the alluring scent of the real thing – and the plant is ignored by the male bees.
While warmer springs cause the early spider orchid to flower earlier in May, climate warming is also causing female bees to emerge from hibernation even earlier – confounding the orchid’s attempts to dupe the male bees.

Phenology is the study of how plant and animal life cycles are influenced by seasonal variations in climate. Similar phenological mismatches have been observed in other ecological relationships, such as great tit chicks no longer hatching soon enough to coincide with peak supplies of their crucial caterpillar food. They could potentially imperil the reproductive success of many species, including the pollination of plants and crops.

Studying 356 years of central England temperature records, as well as specimens of early spider orchids and Andrena nigroaenea from herbariums and museums from Victorian times, researchers from the University of Sussex, the University of East Anglia, Kew and the University of Kent were able to calculate when warm spring conditions caused the female bees to emerge earlier than the orchid.

Their study, published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, found that the orchid’s trick was always a delicate balancing act – even between 1659 and 1710, the peak flying date for the female bee preceded the orchid’s peak flowering in 40% of the years – but it has become even more inefficient. Mean spring temperature increased from 7.68C to 8.64C over the 356-year study period, and between 1961 and 2014 the female bee’s emergence preceded the orchid’s peak flowering in 80% of the years.
The researchers found the female bee beat the orchid flower in 26 of the 28 years to 2014. Although one pollinated early spider orchid can produce 10,000 tiny seeds, failure to flower before the female bee emerges makes pollination almost impossible, and each orchid is very short-lived.

Michael Hutchings, lead author and emeritus professor of ecology at the University of Sussex, first noticed the changes in flowering times during 32 years studying the rare orchids on the South Downs. The orchid’s range in Britain has drastically shrunk and Hutchings warned that it could become extinct in this country, with climate change also damaging populations of other less specialist plants and animals.

“For years I’ve been speaking at conferences and writing papers saying if we get the habitat management right everything is going to be fine but then the climate warming actually stops the plant producing the seeds,” he said.

“Ecologists have been saying for a long time that if phenologies are changed by changing climate this might disrupt important interactions in communities of species. This study provides the strongest evidence we have that something nasty is happening. There are probably lots of other undocumented cases where similar detrimental effects on species are occurring.”

By: Patrick Barkham

The pollinators part 4 and ‘National Seeding day’

The Pollinators open food bank for wild bees.

In the past year, bee mortality was in the spotlight. It is bad with the pollinating animal species. That is why The Pollinators call on the Netherlands to sow for the bees on 22 April. At distribution points everyone can pick up organic flower seed before and during the National Seeding Day.
In the region of North Limburg and Land van Cuijk, this is the social company Bijenhotel in Overloon. The pollinators also drive through the country with electric cars with ambassadors such as Egbert Jan Weeber, Hannah Hoekstra, Manuel Broekman, Kiki van Deursen, Tycho Gernandt and Adriana Mosk.

mixed flowers bees
Photo by: greatbasinseeds.com

Without pollinators our menu would be a lot less colorful and nutritious. More than 70% of what is on our plate every day needs pollination by insects. To be able to do their important work, pollinators need enough pollen and nectar in addition to professional bee-hotels.

Unfortunately, the situation is not rosy: large parts of our landscape contain virtually no variety of food for insects, and certain pesticides make the animals weak. Sowing many organic flowers provides extra concentrate. A good reason for The Pollinators to distribute kilos of seed.

Planning to sow in your own neighborhood on 22 April 2018? Find a nice piece of land and get the free organic flower seeds in Overloon. On thepollinators.org you can read how exactly you get these seeds. You get a seeding instruction, so you know what to do with it.

The Pollinators form a national network of people and organizations that work for pollinators, both in word and in deed. The Pollinators was started in 2016 by The Tipping Point and Nudge to draw attention to the decrease of pollinating insects. Bijenhotelkopen.nl is a partner of The Pollinators and supports the national actions to protect and support the wild bees.

https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/gardening---agriculture/pest-control

By Marion Minten

Cover photo: morningstar.netfirms.com

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Hans van der Broek , founder Founder and CEO of WhatsOrb, world traveller, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Hans has countless ideas and has set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. He also has an opinion on everything and unlimited thoughts about how to create a better world. He likes hiking and has climbed numerous five-thousanders (mountain summits of at least 5000m or 16,404 feet in elevation)  
Hans van der Broek , founder Founder and CEO of WhatsOrb, world traveller, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Hans has countless ideas and has set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. He also has an opinion on everything and unlimited thoughts about how to create a better world. He likes hiking and has climbed numerous five-thousanders (mountain summits of at least 5000m or 16,404 feet in elevation)  
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