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Bavaria's the bees knees

COMMUNITY

Bavaria’s government has agreed to pass a “save the bees” law that promises to reverse insect decline after German environmentalists presented a petition with 1.75 million signatures. The petition garnered the support of 18% of the population — 10% is the threshold needed for a petition to be legally recognised by the state government. 

Launched in February, the petition calls for 20% of the south German region’s agriculture land to adopt organic farming methods by 2025 — increasing to 30% by 2030. It would involve transforming Bavaria’s green spaces into flowering meadows, saving hedges and trees, and protecting waterways from pesticides and fertilisers. “This will be tremendous for people and nature,” says Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe. “Growing evidence of the devastating impact industrial agriculture is having on our bodies and biodiversity is now indisputable. If politicians don’t act, then people power, like we have seen in Bavaria, will.”

Community campaigners in Germany and globally have been calling for urgent action to reverse insect losses following warnings from scientists that a third of the world’s pollinators are threatened with extinction. Such a decline in numbers could prove catastrophic for the planet’s ecosystems. “It takes specific legislation to preserve the amazing variety of insects in the world and the critical services they provide by stopping the destruction of natural habitats, limiting road building in parks and reserves, and producing food without the use of pesticides,” says entomologist Yves Basset from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

By focusing on bees and other popular insects such as butterflies, legislation can be enacted that also protects less attractive but equally as important insects. “The creation of sustainable systems for environmental protection will depend on biologically literate, empathetic people who join together to create knowledge-based legislation as they did in Germany,” says Basset.

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