Loss of insects is a threat for us all

Bee © shutterstock

A new report, Insect Declines and Why They Matter, commissioned by Wildlife Trusts in the south of England has revealed conclusively that drastic declines in insect numbers look set to have far-reaching consequences for wildlife and people.

The new report, authored by invertebrate expert Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, highlights the real and lasting knock on effects on insect-eating birds, bats, and fish, and also the cost to society in terms of economic impact of broken ecosystems. However, as well as revealing the urgency of the problem, the report also highlights a clear path to reversing the worrying rate of decline and suggests measures that could steer the nation off the path to ecological disaster.

The Trusts believe that coordinated and concerted action from government, local authorities, food growers and the public, could enable insect populations to recover and thrive once more, so they can fulfil their incredibly important roles in the ecosystems that support all life. (see Appendix A).

Prof Goulson, author of the report, says: 

“Insects make up the bulk of known species on earth and perform vital roles such as pollination, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. They are also food for numerous larger animals, including birds, bats, fish, amphibians and lizards. If we don’t stop the decline of our insects there will be profound consequences for all life on earth.

“We know that the main causes of decline include habitat loss and fragmentation, and the overuse of pesticides. Wild insects are routinely exposed to complex cocktails of toxins which can cause either death or disorientation and weakened immune and digestive systems.”

In a stark warning, the report concludes: “The consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing.”

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust last month published its ‘Wilder 2030’ plan, outlining how the organisation will work with others to secure nature’s recovery over the coming decade.  The plan includes a range of actions that are needed by Governments, farmers, businesses, individuals and communities to tackle the ecological crisis.

These include the inclusion of a robust Nature Recovery Network in the new Environment Bill and ambitious new legislation to transform the way we farm and use our land.   

In addition, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is asking the public to play their part and become part of ‘Team Wilder’ – making changes in their lives, homes and communities to support insects and all other wildlife.     

Debbie Tann, Chief Executive of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, says:

“The quiet insect apocalypse exposed in this report should set alarms ringing.  We have put at risk some of the fundamental building blocks of life.  But, as the report highlights, the causes of insect declines are known and we can address them; insects and other invertebrates can recover quickly if we stop poisoning them and restore the habitats they need to thrive.  We all need to take action now in our gardens, parks, farms, and places of work.”