Conservationists are making “superhighways” for insects in the UK.
The aim of the network is to join the dots between meadow habitats, which will enable pollinators and other wildlife to move freely between them.
Whilst roads and railways have made travel for humans easier around the UK, it has had the opposite effect on insects. Farms, industrial sites, housing and infrastructures have shrunk and fractured insect habitats.
A new conservation project, the B-Lines initiative, aims to address the problem by creating a network of wildflower superhighways around the UK. Launched on Tuesday, the initiative is 10 years in the making and was launched by the insect charity Buglife, it has already drummed up business from unexpected quarters.
Buglife’s Paul Hetherington said: “Off the back of [the launch] we have had housebuilders ringing up asking how they can incorporate the network into housebuilding, so it could have a really positive effect.”
Over the last decade, Buglife has been mapping potential for the insect superhighways. Access to the land-data needed to create the map costs around £2,500 (€2,916.66) per county and many hours are needed to collect the identity and data of the best routes for insects.
Rather than a map of roads, the idea is wildlife corridors that will join the dots between fractured insect habitats and aims to somewhat reverse the decline of the UK’s wildflower meadows.
“It can make a huge difference in mitigating declines,” Hetherington said
“The things that have really hammered pollinators, and bugs in general, are habitat loss, fragmentation of habitat, loss of connectivity of habitat, climate change and pesticides – this deals with everything except pesticides.”
Pilot sections of the scheme have already been completed, including in Cardiff, South Wales. The pilot has already seen recordings of the shrill carder bee, one of the rarest of the bumblebees.
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