Europe's pollinators are in serious decline and these include honeybees, wild bees and other insects. The value of pollination services in Europe is worth about €22 billion each year and a huge part is provided by wild bees and other insects. If we don't take action to protect this important part of biodiversity, we potentially face negative economic consequences with worrying implications for food security. As 84% of European crops require insect pollination, it is critical to protect these insects that work hard to keep our crops productive.
Dr Simon G. Potts of Reading University, UK, is leading a team of more than 50 researchers who are working together to find ways to conserve Europe's pollinators and ensure that they continue to deliver pollination services to crops and wildflowers. The project called STEP, the Status and Trends of European Pollinators, has € 3.5M of funding from the European Commission and includes 20 research institutions from 17 European countries.
"The STEP project is helping us better understand the causes of pollinator declines including habitat loss, climate change, diseases, invasive species and pesticides. Early results suggest that it is a combination of several of these pressures on pollinators that have resulted in the massive losses of wild bees sand honeybees. Our long-term goal is to develop ways to manage our landscapes so that we can safeguard our wild pollinators so that they can continue to provide pollination services, which benefit everyone in Europe" said Dr Potts.
The project, which started in 2010, will run for 5 years and the scientists are working very closely with a wide range of stakeholders, including beekeepers, conservationists, policy makers, and the industry, to make sure that results support better decision making which will benefit people across Europe and beyond.
STEP is funded by the European Commission as a Collaborative Project within Framework 7 under grant 244090 - STEP- CP - FP. More information on the STEP website: www.STEP-project.net
Source: Potts S.G., Biesmeijer J.C., Bommarco R., Felicioli A., Fischer M., Jokinen P., Kleijn D., Klein A-M., Kunin W.E., Neumann P., Penev L.D., Petanidou T., Rasmont P., Roberts S.P.M., Smith H.G., Sorensen P.B., Steffan-Dewenter I., Vaissière B.E., Vilà M., Vujić A., Woyciechowski M., Zobel M., Settele J. & Schweiger O. (2011) Developing European conservation and mitigation tools for pollination services: approaches of the STEP (Status and Trends of European Pollinators) project. Journal of Apicultural Research 50: 152-164