The international community has taken different measures to tackle the problem of decreasing bee population. Through agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, nations have engaged in taking responsibility for improving conditions for the environment and the conditions for bees. Now, a group of scientists from the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas will unveil a new plan to improve conditions for pollinators dramatically.
Head of the research, Dr Stefanie Christmann, will present the results of the study at the UN biodiversity conference. One of the key findings is that by planting flowering economic crops, there can be a significant impact benefiting both income gains of farmers and biodiversity. Such crops include spices, oil seeds, medicinal and forage plants.
The study comes as a new reminder that alternatives exist. Agriculture does not need to be entirely devoted to agrochemical practices which are harmful to the environment. Through the application of new and eco-responsible farming logics, such as integrated pest management and strategies as presented by the ICAR, we may find a beneficial shift in the environment and agriculture.
Evidence shows that the unsustainable use of pesticides is decimating insect and bird population. The situation may vary from region to region and from country to country, but the need for improvement remains at a worldwide scale.
In the EU, three neonicotinoid substances have been banned earlier in 2018, but such bans are still not enough. Even though they are an important step, they show that challenges are still present. Besides, some countries continue to circumvent these bans without any proper justification. Therefore, bans are not the major shift needed to improve conditions in the environment, favour biodiversity integrally and prevent a the continuation of a bee crisis.
Measures such as the one proposed by the ICAR are pointing towards a new rationale in agriculture, one based on sustainability and feasibility in most conditions. For farmers, their investment in this sort of strategies is limited to affordable seeds. Besides seeds, they need only the know-how to apply this to their crops, which is simple enough that experts can "demonstrate how to do it with pictures sent on a cellphone", as stated Dr Christmann to The Guardian.
As opposed to the current use of flowering strips, which the EU currently promotes, this new strategy points towards a measure of both improving biodiversity protection and increasing revenue for farmers. The study has revealed that by including flowering economic crops in every one out of four strips, gains in yields can even range from 50% up to 561%, depending on the region and the product.
There are two main lessons to retain from this study. First, new practices which are eco-responsible, and which highly benefit the farmer-nature alliance exist. Second, that support and trust are needed to find such alternatives. Improving conditions for biodiversity is dependent on looking for them and having the will to apply them. The will to have better conditions for the environment and protect pollinators and biodiversity needs to expand to farmers, beekeepers, managers, researchers, policymakers and leaders.