Bee happy: government plans to restore bee-friendly habitats unveiled

Billions of pounds ride on the health and prosperity of the UK’s honeybees.

But numbers have been in decline for decades. This spells bad news for farmers for whom bees perform the essential task of pollinating their crops, and bad news for consumers who want to buy the food farmers aim to produce.

Bees’ decline has been blamed on the widespread use of pesticides, along with other factors including the destruction of the wildflower habitat they require.

European legislation to restrict certain neonicotinoid pesticides came into force last year, but will only last for a total of two years.

But now the government has taken affirmative action on the issue and is implementing a 10-year strategy to improve bees’ prospects. It includes a commitment with landowners including Network Rail and the Highways Agency to help restore meadowland and bee friendly environments.

The plans include a £900m component which will be dished out as incentives to farmers to get them to plant pollinator friendly crops, and leave meadows to grow, the BBC reports.

Unveiling the plan today, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said to the BBC that the plan was “all about helping our pollinators survive and thrive”.

“Pollinators are really important for food and farming - for our rural economy, which is worth £210bn per year.”

“The most important part of the strategy is the stewardship scheme, which has a specific pollinator element incentivising farmers to plant wild flowers, have pollinator friendly crops, and to carry out their activities in a pollinator-friendly way.”

Charity Buglife, and Friends of the Earth both welcomed the plans, but urged the government to take further action on restricting and controlling the use of pesticides.

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