Europe Launches Initiative to Save Pollinators

The newly-proposed strategy aims at stopping the decline in pollinators by creating a ban on some pesticides and passing new agricultural measures.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Feb. 4, 2023 18:04 UTC

European reg­u­la­tors have launched a new ini­tia­tive that will update E.U. strate­gies to halt the steady decline of pol­li­na­tor insects.

According to the European Commission, bees, but­ter­flies and hov­er­flies are among the most quickly-dis­ap­pear­ing insects on the con­ti­nent.

Introducing its new ini­tia­tive, A new deal for pol­li­na­tors,” the E.U. gov­ern­ing body acknowl­edged the grow­ing num­ber of European cit­i­zens and asso­ci­a­tions warn­ing against the loss of pol­li­na­tors and ask­ing for deci­sive action.”

See Also:Report: Mediterranean Agricultural Biodiversity at Risk

The new pro­pos­al’s main goal is to reverse pol­li­na­tors’ decline by the year 2030.

The ini­tia­tive builds on three main pil­lars. The first will focus on the con­ser­va­tion of pol­li­na­tor species, the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of their habi­tats and the estab­lish­ment of eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dors for pol­li­na­tors.


A pol­li­na­tor is an organ­ism that helps in the trans­fer of pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts, facil­i­tat­ing fer­til­iza­tion and repro­duc­tion in plants. Some com­mon exam­ples of pol­li­na­tors include bees, but­ter­flies, moths, hum­ming­birds, and bats.

The sec­ond pil­lar will aim at restor­ing degraded habi­tats and boost­ing pol­li­na­tor-friendly farm­ing through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This E.U. multi-year strat­egy man­ages funds and com­pen­sates farm­ers who meet cer­tain envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.

The third pil­lar will focus on mit­i­gat­ing pes­ti­cide’s impact on pol­li­na­tors. The Commission pro­vided exam­ples of how to imple­ment this pil­lar, such as cre­at­ing legal require­ments to use inte­grated pest man­age­ment strate­gies in European farm­ing oper­a­tions.

Other actions might address addi­tional test meth­ods for deter­min­ing the tox­i­c­ity of pes­ti­cides for pol­li­na­tors, includ­ing sub-lethal and chronic effects.”

The Commission explic­itly cited its recent pro­posal for the sus­tain­able use of pes­ti­cides. That pro­posed reg­u­la­tion would dras­ti­cally reduce the use of pes­ti­cides in the European Union. According to the Commission, its imple­men­ta­tion is cru­cial to restor­ing pol­li­na­tor-friendly farm­land.

On top of this, the E.U. Commission noted that the new ini­tia­tive would also aim at restor­ing habi­tats for pol­li­na­tors within cities.

More gener­i­cally, the new ini­tia­tive will aim at tack­ling the impact on pol­li­na­tors of cli­mate change, inva­sive alien species and other threats such as bio­cides or light pol­lu­tion.”

To assess the pol­li­na­tor decline and inves­ti­gate its causes and con­se­quences, the Commission noted that the pro­posed ini­tia­tive paves the way for more research and novel mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems capa­ble of improv­ing loss assess­ment and habi­tat map­ping.

The decline of pol­li­na­tors poses a threat to both human well-being and nature. The loss of pol­li­na­tors under­mines long-term agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity, fur­ther exac­er­bat­ing a trend influ­enced by other fac­tors, notably the cur­rent geopo­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion with Russia’s war of aggres­sion against Ukraine,” the Commission noted.

Introducing the new ini­tia­tive, the Commission empha­sized that four of five European crops depend on pol­li­na­tors. Its con­tri­bu­tion to the E.U.’s agri­cul­tural out­put is esti­mated to be at least €5 bil­lion per year,” the Commission wrote.

Most of the essen­tial ben­e­fits that pol­li­na­tors pro­vide remain unquan­ti­fied, such as their con­tri­bu­tion to nutri­tion secu­rity and health, or to main­tain­ing ecosys­tem health and resilience by pol­li­nat­ing wild plants,” the doc­u­ment stated.

While ask­ing European cit­i­zens to coop­er­ate in rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness, the Commission will also sup­port mem­ber coun­tries who define national pol­li­na­tor strate­gies in line with the new ini­tia­tive.

The reg­u­la­tion update comes on the heels of sev­eral other European pol­li­na­tor-pro­tec­tion strate­gies, such as the E.U. Biodiversity Platform, which includes mea­sures and goals focused on pro­tect­ing pol­li­na­tors. The Commission also included the new ini­tia­tive in the Nature Restoration Law pre­sented last June. Under that law, national strate­gies to pro­tect pol­li­na­tors must be included in each nation’s broader National Restoration Plans.


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