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UK Pollinator Action Plan 2021 – 2024 | What You Need To Know

14 min read

We’ve known for a long time that honey bees and other pollinators play a critical role in the health of our planet. Not only do they support the biodiversity of our ecosystems, but they also contribute more than £500 million a year to UK agriculture and food production. 

So when pollinators are in a difficult situation, it means all of us are.

Due to climate change and other factors, the population numbers for honey bees and other pollinators have been steadily declining for years. This has prompted governments around the world to take action. 

In 2020, the European Union published the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy, which among many other targets, outlined their goal to reverse the decline of wild pollinator populations by 2030. This is a goal shared by the UK government, which published the Pollinator Action Plan in 2021. The plan outlined their steps for improving the health of UK pollinators, specifically between 2021 and 2024 – a critical few years for stopping their population decline. Alongside this, the government will also be introducing a mandatory biodiversity net gain plan to protect habitats and encourage biodiversity through land development and management.

All of us have a role to play when it comes to supporting honey bees and other pollinators, and the Pollinator Action Plan provides a necessary framework for that work. 

pic wrapper Bee pollinating a flower

What is the UK Pollinator Action Plan?

The plan outlines how the UK government will collaborate with trusted partners to address the needs of pollinators. It builds on the work of the government’s previous strategy – the National Pollinator Strategy – which was released in 2014. Not only does the Pollinator Action Plan carry forward many of that strategy’s aims and initiatives, but it adds new ones as well.

There are around 6,000 species of insect involved in the pollination of crops and wild plants in the UK, including bumblebees, solitary bees, moths, butterflies and hoverflies. Protecting them – and understanding them better – is the primary goal of the Pollinator Action Plan.

The benefits of the UK pollinator strategy

The benefits of the government’s strategy are clear. They provide us with a clear set of guidelines and targets for helping reverse the decline of pollinator populations by 2030. In addition to the long-term benefits this will have on the health of our ecosystem – and the biodiversity of our country – the strategy also carries several short-term benefits as well, guided by its key areas of focus.

Firstly, it will help provide bigger, better and richer habitats for pollinators around the country. This includes both rural and urban areas. Secondly, it’ll help provide us with a better understanding of the health of these pollinators. Climate change poses an existential threat to many of them – shown by declining numbers – and the key to reversing this is to better understand what negatively impacts them.

One final key aim of the Pollinator Action Plan is to increase public awareness of the position that pollinators are currently in. Though most people know that honey bee populations are declining, many aren’t fully aware of the risks posed to our planet by their disappearance. The UK Pollinator Plan aims to get people from all walks of life involved in helping pollinators. The steps people can take range from small actions – such as planting more flowers and preserving green spaces – and bigger ones, such as supporting the work that organisations like Knight’s Beekeeping undertake.

Achievements of the Pollinator Action Plan to date

The Pollinator Action Plan and the government’s broader national pollinator strategy have generated incredible results so far, even if there’s still a lot more work to be done. Below, we’ve outlined some of the key highlights.

Our understanding of pollinators

The Pollinator Action Plan has helped improve our understanding of the UK’s pollinators and their health. It’s also improved our awareness of the external factors that affect them, so new policies can be implemented to better support them going forward.

The establishment of the PoMS engagement scheme

Working with research institutes and volunteer organisations, the government has established the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS). The scheme generates systematic data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other flower-visiting insects, and has become an invaluable resource for measuring trends in pollinator populations.

Creating, mapping and enhancing beneficial habitats

A lot of time and effort has been put into supporting beneficial habitats for pollinators. This has included new funding opportunities for farmers, woodland owners and forest and land managers when making environmental improvements. 

Sustaining honey bee health

Working in collaboration with the National Bee Unit, the government has managed to carry out over 6,500 inspections of honey bees in the UK. This has helped beekeepers stay on top of threats from pests like Varroa as well as invasive, non-native species such as the Asian hornet.

How we have contributed to the Pollinator Action Plan

Everything we do at Knight’s Beekeeping ties in with the health of UK honey bees and reversing their population decline, supporting the goals of the Pollinator Action Plan in the most direct sense.

Our mission to help pollinate the country and aid the restoration of its natural biodiversity through our network of interconnected apiaries is making a tangible difference to both the flora and fauna around us as we work to support local habitats and the flourishing of native species.

Through our on-site Experience Days, talks, events, guest demonstrations, and social media content, we’re also contributing to raising awareness amongst the public of the importance of our pollinators and what they can do to support them.

Looking to the future

We can all agree that honey bees and other pollinators are in a tricky situation at the moment.

Climate change poses a huge threat to some of the most important members of our ecosystem, and it’s up to all of us to get involved if we want to see their numbers bounce back.

Thankfully, due to the initiatives set out by the Pollinator Action Plan, things are moving in a positive direction. While there’s still a lot of work to do in order to reverse the decline of pollinator populations by 2030, we’re definitely on the right track. Working together, we can help pollinators thrive, and create a richer, more sustainable world for humans and wildlife alike.

If you’re ready to take the first step in supporting honey bees, visit our plans and pricing page and get involved today. Alternatively, you can get in touch by filling out the form on the contact page.