YOUR AM WRITES: Nick Ramsay, AM for Monmouth
Albert Einstein once famously said “If all the Bees were gone, humans would be gone within 4 years.”
The dramatic decline in bees and other pollinators over the last 30 years has given new resonance to Einstein’s prophetic, apocalyptic words.
The value of pollinators to UK agriculture is estimated at £430 million per year and it’s thought that production of welsh honey has a wholesale value of over £2 million so it’s abundantly clear that we must take action to safeguard this essential component of our ecosystem.
I recently attended the inaugural meeting of a local group set up to make Monmouthshire a more bee friendly county. This group hopes to tie in with the Pollinator Plan for Wales which the Assembly launched earlier in the summer. It’s hoped the plan will improve habitats and help reverse the decline in our bees.
This is a great example of how different levels of government can work together. Local authorities can opt to leave more roadside grass verges uncut which would help increase the area of bee-friendly habitat.. National government can raise the profile of pollinators through better education and by ensuring that environmental and agricultural policies consider the impact on bees. The EU can regulate the kinds of pesticides which can have a serious impact on the health of pollinators.
The decline in bees is of course just one aspect of a wider environmental challenge that we are facing. But progress doesn’t always have to mean more chemicals, more pollution or a loss of biodiversity. Earlier this year I visited a family-run farm close to Abergavenny which has successfully turned its back on accepted farming methods and has now been “organic” for a number of years. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the family who were committed to farming their land without relying on modern fertilizers and pesticides. It was also good to get to try some local organic milk, so different to the “white water” which we have become so used to on supermarket shelves!.
The truth is we all have a role to play in safeguarding our natural environment. Each of us can make a small difference just by setting aside micro-meadows in our gardens and growing appropriate pollinator-friendly flowers. At the end of the day, we and the bees are all in this together, so why not start creating a little bit of a buzz and “bee friendly”.
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