‘Flower rivers’ to save bugs

AS WELL as having corridors for vehicles, i.e. roads, how about creating similar networks of habitat?

The idea of creating wildlife corridors – instead on relying of nature reserve “oases” to preserve our wildlife – has been around for some years, strengthened by the realisation that some species will not survive.

However, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust, known as Buglife, is takjing the idea further by calling for an official network of 300-metre wide “wildflower rich” corridors – called B-lines - throughout the UK where, it claims, more than seven and a half million acres of wildflower rich habitat has been lost since the Second World War.

It says farming wildlife schemes have only recreated about 16,000 acres of such habitat.

“Scientists are increasingly concerned that the loss of bees and other pollinators will have disastrous effects on food production and pollination services in the natural environment. Buglife is calling on Government to tackle the issue head on and create a network of wildflower meadows,” according to its chief executive, former Suffolk-based conservationist Matt Shardlow.

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He said the ecosystem service provided by pollinators was essential to human survival and had to be preserved for future generations.

But Buglife is worried that while pollinators including bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies are disappearing, there is little Government effort to address the problem.

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B-lines would be rivers of flowers in every county, one going east west and the other north south. They would be carefully planned to avoid woods, lakes and other unsuitable habitats.

A national network of 300-metre wide flower rich B-lines would, according to Buglife:

Create or secure 375,000 acres of permanent flower-rich grassland.

Secure national pollination services worth �440 million a year.

Directly supplement pollination services over 15% of the English land surface.

Provide greater food security.

Improve the diet of livestock, reducing methane emissions.

Lock up CO2 in new grassland soils.

Conserve endangered grassland biodiversity.

Create “green” jobs and

Make wildlife more accessible to people.

Buglife estimates that B-lines would cost between �30 and �40 million a year to implement.

“We are causing an extinction crisis that puts our future in jeopardy. Action is required now and Government must find a way to ensure that some of the funds that are generated by individuals and companies by damaging wildlife are used to repair wildlife.” Mr Shardlow said.

Wildlife charities are asking parliamentary candidates to commit “to return colour, life and vitality to the countryside”. Find out if your candidates have signed the pledge at www.wildlifepledges2010.org.uk.

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