Friday, 20 June 2014

Making a buzz about bees

There’s barely a week that goes by when bees aren’t featured in the papers, on the TV or in parliamentary proceedings. This week was no exception, with one key difference; Marylyn Haines Evans, Chair of the NFWI Public Affairs Committee was up in front of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, giving evidence on their future survival.

The inquiry presented an opportunity for the 16 MPs who sit on the Environmental Audit Committee to question individuals from across the scientific, charitable, business and farming community about the strengths and weaknesses of the draft National Pollinator Strategy (the government’s ‘Bee Action Plan’), investigate how concerns are addressed and aspirations are met, and feed back to government on the issue.

Marylyn gave evidence alongside the National Farmers Union, Friends of the Earth, and civil servants from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Whilst welcoming the strategy and Defra’s leadership developing it, Marylyn outlined the NFWI’s unease that the strategy was too reliant on voluntary measures, and fell short on issues such as planning, monitoring and insecticide use. Defra will be reflecting on the Committee’s findings before the final strategy is published this autumn, and we hope that they give these the due consideration that’s needed.

Over the last few months the NFWI has received thousands of postcards from WI members telling Lord de Mauley, the Minister with responsibility for pollinators, just why bees are important to them. Thanks to the five thousand WI members who have written to us, following the Environmental Audit Committee, Marylyn, alongside former Vice Chair of Public Affairs Committee, Sybil Graham, was invited to meet with the Minister to hand-over the postcards, and crucially, share the NFWI’s concerns about the National Pollinator Strategy directly with the Minister.

The Minister was open to our concerns, and was keen to explore how Defra and the WI can work together to ensure our pollinator populations revive and thrive. The NFWI will of course work with Defra in order to protect our bees and pollinators, but ultimately we believe that there is a huge role for government to implement policies that go above and beyond existing measures if they are to ensure the strategy is fit for purpose and the long-term. WI members have made their views on bee decline explicitly clear, but we are still not convinced that the government’s strategy is as strong as it can be. We will continue to make the case for a strong Bee Action Plan. The NPS provides a unique opportunity to address the multiple challenges our precious pollinators face, let’s not let them down.

No comments:

Post a Comment