Hi this is Peter from the Wild Bunch with our latest column.
There is a lot going on with ‘rewilding’ these days; looking to find ways to reintroduce the top animals in the pyramid of animal (and plant) health. That means reintroducing ‘keystone species’ like wolves, lynx, beaver and wild boar. Many of us will have seen Red Kites gracefully circling the skies around Frome after their reintroduction from Europe (and a 150-year gap in most parts of the UK). The theory is that these ‘top’ species are necessary to ensure healthy balances in the species they eat, and, to a certain extent, it works.
Where this rebuilding of a healthy system can all go wrong is from the bottom. I’ve written before about how desperately we need to recreate healthy soils, stuffed with billions of the microscopic microbes and fungi that can help ensure both our wild and farmed plants and animals are healthy. However, it is the next layer up that is also hanging on by a thread. The UK’s flying insect population is down by around 60% in the last 20 years. Half the moths have gone, compared to when I was young, a third of the butterflies; 17 bee species have gone – annoying creepy crawlies? Innox residents do indeed have an issue with flies from the sewage works, BUT without key insects, what do the birds eat? And the whole system starts to collapses from the bottom up.
This too, might seem sad but hardly crucial. Until you realise that three quarters of the world’s food crops are at least partially dependent on insects for pollination, with many key crops totally so: cocoa, coffee, soybeans, oilseed, apples, pears, the list goes on. No insects, no fruit. So, let’s act big and small: cut out the use of chemicals and leave areas of your garden ‘wild’ and also continue to lobby government where they prioritise short term profit over long term survival – not just for insects but for the larger animals that depend on a functioning system.
Speaking of insects, why not join us on location at our next Wild Bunch meeting focussing on bees and butterflies. Taking place on Thursday 20th July, 1:30-2:30pm at Rodden Meadow, local butterfly and wildflower experts will take us on a guided walk, hoping to spot butterflies and the flowers that feed them. Find out more on the Wild Bunch page.