£2.3m to help protect UK insects after Brexit - Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Insect Survey expertise to help formulate new conservation policies

The health of the UK’s insect populations is to be assessed by a new project, which aims to advise on policies to help protect them more effectively post-Brexit.

There are growing concerns that insects are in widespread decline across Europe and beyond, with intensive agriculture and other human-induced pressures such as climate change being blamed.

However, whilst there is strong evidence of declines in a few insect groups in certain areas, the evidence for overall insect declines in Britain remains sketchy at best – as do the causes.

Researchers have been awarded £2.3 million from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to provide definitive evidence on whether insects are in decline in the UK, to understand the key drivers threatening their existence, and to support the development of environmental policies to protect them.

The new project, led by the University of Leeds with partners from Rothamsted Research, the University of Reading, and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) will undertake the most comprehensive analysis to date of British insect populations from as wide a range of sources, and for as broad a set of species, as possible.

The project team will then use the data to test what factors have had the strongest impact on insect populations, and to model how different policy options could counter these effects. These findings will make an important contribution to the UK’s biodiversity conservation strategy now it is no longer part of the European Union.

The researchers believe that the new set of environmental and agricultural management rules and incentives being designed after Brexit could provide an opportunity to address the drivers of decline in insects and other wildlife.

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