The State of Nature report was launched today, revealing the poor state of many of our habitats and wildlife populations. This report was produced through collaboration between 25 environmental charities in the UK, including the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Worryingly, it shows that two thirds of the insect species analysed have declined over the past 50 years.
Flowering plants, which provide the vital nectar and pollen that bumblebees are wholly dependent upon, have been shown to have declined by a staggering 58% in Scotland, a figure also mirrored in the rest of the UK. This is extremely concerning, and once again proves how much more work needs to be done to protect and improve habitats for our wildlife. We have collaborated with RSPB on a number of projects to create habitat for bumblebees, and believe that such partnerships are important for the welfare of bumblebees and other wildlife.
This report also highlights the importance of recording information about our wildlife and habitats. The State of Nature report could only analyse quantitative trends for 5% of our species, and invertebrate groups in particular were found to be lacking important data. Very little is known about how bumblebee populations have changed over time, apart from the fact that several species which were formerly widespread are now extinct or close to extinct in the UK. Two species of bumblebee were lost from the UK in the 20th century and at least a further six species have suffered large declines in their range. For example, the Great yellow bumblebee was once found throughout the UK, but is now restricted to the North Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is collecting more information about how bumblebee populations are changing over time through our BeeWalk survey. Volunteers recording bumblebees are integral to the success of this survey, and we would invite anyone who wants to help to get involved in BeeWalk by clicking here.
Luckily some of our bumblebees have adapted well to life in urban areas and are now considered more common in gardens than in the wider countryside. Gardens are thought to encompass an area of approximately 1 million hectares in the UK and have become a vital refuge for bumblebees and other wildlife. Bumblebee Conservation Trust has put together a website called Bee kind to help gardeners choose and learn about bee-friendly plants.
We have a vision for a future where our communities and countryside are rich in bumblebees and colourful flowers, and the simplest changes can make a real difference.
The full report can be read here: www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/science/stateofnature/index.aspx