Europe

This wildflower corridor could help save insects in the UK

By Chelsea Lee, CNN

Updated 0927 GMT (1727 HKT) July 6, 2022
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Since the 1930s, 97% of the UK's wildflower meadows have been lost to farmlands and urban development, leading to drastic declines of insect populations and species such as the scabious bee, which relies on woodlands with an abundance of devil's-bit scabious flowers for its habitat. Neil Aldridge
Since the 1930s, 97% of the UK's wildflower meadows have been lost to farmlands and urban development, leading to drastic declines of insect populations and species such as the scabious bee, which relies on woodlands with an abundance of devil's-bit scabious flowers for its habitat. Will Hawkes
Found mostly in southern England, the distribution of the silver-studded blue wing has decreased by 64% since the 1970s, largely due to habitat loss. Steven Falk
Over the course of a decade, Buglife mapped out 1,500 wildflower-rich meadows across the UK and launched the B-lines map in March 2021. The initiative hopes to fill in the gaps between these meadows with wildflower habitats, so that insects like this migrant species, the Tiger hoverfly, can have regular pit stops to refuel. Steven Falk
The B-lines network aims for each wildflower-rich stepping stone to be no further than 300 meters apart from the next. This is the average commuting distance of a solitary bee, such as the northern collete pictured. Steven Falk
The pollinator pathway runs through private and public land in UK towns and countryside. An example is the Scottish B-line alongside the coast-to-coast John Muir footpath, which provides habitats for species like the six-belted clearwing. This species is often found in coastal grasslands, which are narrowing because of coastal erosion. Bill Crooks
A highly collaborative project, Buglife is working with farmers to fill their green hay meadows with wildflowers. This could also provide nutrient-rich hay for cattle to graze. The UK Department of Environmental, Farming and Rural Affairs has recently established an Environmental Land Management scheme to incentivize farmers' participation in landscape restoration. Chelsea Lee
Biodiverse wildflower-rich grasslands can take one to two years to bloom, while a 10-year management plan is recommended to maintain them, says Jamie Robins, programmes manager at Buglife. Chelsea Lee
An increase in nectar-rich grasslands and heathlands can help protect the population of predator species like the hornet robberfly, which catches dung beetles, bees and grasshoppers, maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Darren Bradley
The heath bee-fly is a vulnerable species that can be found sucking up nectar on flower-rich habitats adjacent to heathland. Steven Falk
The rare wart-biter bush cricket relies on grasslands for its habitats and is protected under the UK's 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Steven Falk
Wildflower-rich grasslands and heathlands are important for maintaining connectivity and biodiversity. Other species depend on pollinators for survival, for instance The black oil beetle thrives in those areas and is largely dependent on the diversity of wild bees. D&M Nesbitt