A new report, Insect Declines and Why They Matter, commissioned by an alliance of Wildlife Trusts in the south west, concludes that drastic declines in insect numbers look set to have far-reaching consequences for both wildlife and people. The new report by invertebrate expert, Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, highlights the severe effects of the declines on insect-eating birds, bats, and fish, and the cost to society due to lost revenue and broken ecosystems.
Professor Goulson, author of the report, says:
“Insects make up the bulk of known species on earth and are integral to the functioning of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, performing vital roles such as pollination, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. They are also food for numerous larger animals, including birds, bats, fish, amphibians and lizards. If we don’t stop the decline of our insects there will be profound consequences for all life on earth.
“And it’s not just our wild bees and pollinators that are declining – these trends are mirrored across a great many of other invertebrate species. Of serious concern is the little we know about the fate of many of the more obscure invertebrates that are also crucial to healthy ecosystems.
“What we do know however is that the main causes of decline include habitat loss and fragmentation, and the overuse of pesticides. Wild insects are routinely exposed to complex cocktails of toxins which can cause either death or disorientation and weakened immune and digestive systems.”
The report concludes: “The consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing.”
The Wildlife Trusts believe there needs to be a significant reduction in the use of pesticides, particularly the insecticides that are destroying the very creatures we depend on for the health of our natural world. Pesticides marketed as a quick-fix are creating a long-term ecological disaster but the damage they cause severely hampers The Wildlife Trusts’ ambition to create a Nature Recovery Network, which puts space for nature at the heart of our farming and planning systems – to bring nature into the places where people live their daily lives. To achieve this, wildlife and wild places need not only to be protected, but also restored and connected-up.