In the latest bid to boost numbers of our ecological best buddies, a borough of London is building a lengthy “bee corridor” that will fill the city's outskirts with colorful wildflowers and help pollinators thrive.
Brent, a borough in outer northwest London, hopes to create a "bee corridor" by planting an 11-kilometer (7-mile) strip of wildflowers, formed of 22 meadows, across the borough's existing parks and green spaces. The seed-sowing started earlier this year, but the council has recently upped its game and hopes to have the corridor ready for summer.
Their aim is to simply boost the area’s slumping numbers of pollinators, from dragonflies and feral bees to butterflies and bumblebees.
The project comes off the back of a recent study, published in the journal Nature Communications, that found worrying declines in wild pollinating insects across the UK since the 1980s. As usual, the main culprits behind this worrying trend were habitat loss, climate change, and pesticides. This is especially startling when you consider that insect pollinators contribute to 75 percent of crop species and 35 percent of global crop production.
In the fight against the imposing forces of industry and agribusiness, even local projects such as this can still make a difference. A handful of other studies over the past few years have argued that urban gardens with a diversity of plants could play a key role in the projection of bumblebees and wild pollinators in the UK and beyond.
"Bees and other insects are so important for pollinating the crops that provide the food that we eat,” Councilor Krupa Sheth, Lead Member for Environment, said in a statement.
“We must do all we can to help them to thrive. I'm proud of Brent's commitment to boost biodiversity in the borough and look forward to seeing the meadows in full bloom in just a few months' time."
The global collapse of bee populations is a complex and thorny issue, but there are several causes that are consistent throughout the world. The first is pathogens and parasites, such as the Varroa mite, which humans have limited control over. However, the second two factors are our responsibility: climate change and industrial agriculture.
As shown by a landmark UN report published this week, human activity is also threatening a million other species of plants and animals. The situation will only continue to worsen unless Earth’s human population makes a "transformative change" to the way we interact with the natural world.