Everybody can do their bit to boost insect populations, says a new Wiltshire Wildlife Trust report.
If we do not take action, the trust warns, the possible consequences include the collapse of ecosystems on land and in water.
The new report is called Reversing the Decline of Insects, and cites examples of farmers, communities, councils and charities which are boosting insect populations, and also calls for an ambitious pesticide reduction programme.
Trust chief executive Dr Gary Mantle MBE said: “The message is clear: the diversity and abundance of insects can recover if we stop the unnecessary use of pesticides and create places where they can thrive. The UK government must lead the way with a new pesticide reduction target for the whole country; then it’s up to all of us to help turn this situation around.”
An earlier trust report, Insect Declines and Why They Matter, examined mounting evidence that insect populations are close to collapse.
It concluded that "...the consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing.”
Insects have many vital roles, including pollination, being part of food chains and breaking down plant and animal waste.
The trust wants the Government to set a pesticide target as good as or better than the current EU goal of a 50 percent reduction by 2020.
It is also calling for there to be no weakening of UK pesticide standards in future trade deals and support for farmers to adopt insect-friendly practices.
The report comes at a time the trust regards as critical for insects. The organisation says there is ongoing scientific evidence for insect declines, and the future of insects – and all life that depends on them – hangs in the balance as trade deals threaten to increase the use of insect-harming pesticides.
The organisation says the Agriculture Bill currently progressing through Parliament presents a unique opportunity to ensure farmers are supported to pursue insect-friendly farming methods.
Professor Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex is the report's lead author.
He said: “If we get it right for insects we get it right for everything else. Insects are the canaries in the coal mine – their collapse is an alarm bell that we must not ignore.
"Action is needed from every section of society – we all need to change this together.”
The trust believes the decline can be reversed by creating a network of nature-rich areas covering at least 30 percent of the UK, together with setting binding targets for nature’s recovery and having councils prioritise green recovery and freedom from pesticides.
It is also calling for everybody to champion the plight of insects.
Doing so can be as easy as allowing part of a garden to grow wild, making space for plants that insects like or creating insect homes such as log piles.
Information about creating insect-friendly places can be found at www.wildlifetrusts.org/take-action-insects