New plans that will help protect Wales’ unique environment and boost its bee population are to be announced by Environment Minister John Griffiths.
As part of the ambitious programme, road verges and railway embankments will be planted with pollinator-friendly wild plants and the planning system will be changed to ensure developments help support the declining numbers of bees.
The Minister will meet with the Welsh Bee Keepers Association as part of his visit to the Royal Welsh Show and announce his intention to develop a Pollinator Action Plan for Wales.
The plan is part of the Welsh Government’s efforts to halt the decline in populations of honey bees, managed bees and hoverflies, all of which have been in severe decline for the last 30 years.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with the Welsh Bee Keepers Association stand, the Minister said: “We know that twenty percent of the UK cropped area is made up of pollinator dependent crops; a high portion of wild flowering plants depend on insect pollination for reproduction; and the value of pollinators to the UK Government is conservatively estimated to be £430 million per annum. This makes pollination a vitally important eco system service.
“However despite their importance, pollinator populations have been on the decline for the last 30 years and we know that if we don’t take prompt action, this trend will continue.
“That is why I am considering how we might slow and reverse the decline in pollinator numbers and why I am committed to addressing this issue.
"Wales will be leading the way on this issue and will be the first UK Government to produce a Pollinator Action Plan."
Friends of the Earth Cymru campaigner Bleddyn Lake said: “We’re delighted the Minister has acted so quickly to help protect bees and other pollinators, which are in steep decline throughout the UK.
“Thousands of people have already backed our campaign, The Bee Cause, which calls for action on habitat loss and pesticide-use.
“Farmers, councils and communities need help and advice to protect these essential pollinators – one third of our food wouldn’t be available at all without them, and it will cost us heavily if we lose them.
“It’s fantastic that Wales is taking the lead with action to safeguard our environment and save the economy millions of pounds – the rest of the UK must follow quickly.”
The action plan will be developed in partnership with key agencies and might include things like:
* Changes to the planning system that will help to make development ‘pollinator friendly’
* More “pollinator friendly” planting across the public estate, including on railway embankments and road verges
* Joint working with local authorities on the management of parks and other public green spaces
* Encouraging nurseries to sell “pollinator friendly” plants and provide advice to consumers
* Building an evidence base on the impact of pesticides through joint working with the National Botanic Garden of Wales
* Close working with Welsh Bee Keepers Association and other voluntary groups.
The work will be undertaken in line with the principles set out in the Welsh Government’s ‘Sustaining a Living Wales’ programme and will take a whole eco system approach.
The Welsh Government will now start work on developing the plan in conjunction with relevant agencies and organisations.