I’m convinced that education is really key to help develop a balanced perspective regarding invertebrates, and their roles in the eco-system.
I think this education needs to extend beyond the obvious – yes, many people recognise a butterfly and a bumble bee, but even here, our knowledge tends to be limited.
In addition, the feeling I get is that the threat of
‘pest’ insects and invertebrates seems to be exaggerated versus the actual threat.
Here are a few points I would like to see the public and farmers educated about:
Yet most invertebrates have a very low profile, and with the exception of a few beneficial species and a few ‘pests’, many are prone to mis-identification, or their role is not understood.
Despite the high profile of honey bees, only 12% of UK adults were able to correctly identify them in a recent Friends Of The Earth Survey - so what hope do the majority of beneficial insects have?
There are some solitary bees that are so
tiny, they could be mistaken for little black flies! I think we need to become more familiar with
species: from bees, beetles, flies, butterflies and many other creatures and the roles they play.
...but each year they destroy between 10 and 15 percent of the World’s agricultural produce.” – source - The British Natural History Museum.
humans waste one third of food produced, globally every year – mostly in the
Source: UN Report http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e00.pdf
So why are we worrying about 10 - 15% of food crops, when we are wasting a third?
And which is of greater detriment to the environment, a few plant nibbling beetles, or the thousands of toxic product polluting the environment every year?
So, based on our figures for 1000 agricultural pest species, we could therefore, an estimated 999 species out of every 1000 is
beneficial or harmless, and only 1 is a pest.
The retail value of what they pollinate was valued closer to £1bn. (Source: The Economic Value Of Honey Bees: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8015136.stm).
From hoverflies, butterflies, lacewings, and ladybirds to earthworms
and various beetles and ‘low profile’
invertebrates – all not quantified, since none of those species ever sent a
farmer or gardener a bill!
If farmers and the public had a more balanced and better understanding of the contribution of invertebrates, they may be more motivated to find environmentally methods of gardening and farming, and more likely to accept ‘imperfect’ fruit and vegetables.
The research below shows that farmers were treating for pollen beetle unnecessarily. This is not only bad for the environment, it's expense for farmers.
A 30 year study by the Rodale Institute showed that ultimately, organic farming methods match production of intensive, environmentally destructive methods of farming, and exceed it in some climate conditions. How many farmers would be aware of this research, I wonder?
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