This morning there were swifts flying above the garden – summer’s [almost] here! As if on cue, the eagerly anticipated report on “Design and Testing of a National Pollinator and Pollination Monitoring Framework“, one of the key recommendations of the National Pollinator Strategy, has been published today by Defra. Here’s a link to the report and its annexes.
I’ve not had time to read the full report, and even the Executive Summary (ES) is quite long and detailed, but the Conclusion to the ES captures the key points (emphases in bold are mine):
“…there is considerable scope to enhance monitoring of pollinators and pollination services to ensure a robust and rigorous evidence-base to support the needs of policy, however this project has demonstrated clear trade-offs between likely cost and data quality, especially in terms of the taxonomic resolution and accuracy of species identifications. Currently the volunteer sector, namely the NSS*, provides the expertise to deliver monitoring of changes in species occurrence or distributions at a national scale for many, but not all, species. Indeed the total value of voluntary work provided by BWARS and HRS….is estimated, based on current levels, to reach in excess of £5M over ten years. Repeated systematic sampling from a stratified network of sites not typically covered by the NSS has the potential to add considerable value, providing data on pollinator abundance that may link with provision of pollination services and filling gaps in the spatial extent and species coverage. Enhancements to improve the range and accuracy of monitoring pollinators and pollination services over large spatial and temporal scales will depend on adequate resources to support capacity building, coordination and implementation.”
In summary, the volunteer schemes are a hugely valuable asset that need to be enhanced by funding from the public purse in order to set up a pollinator and pollinator monitoring scheme that will be fit for purpose. Will the current Government show the necessary vision and leadership to provide that funding? Watch this space….
* NSS = National Recording Schemes and Societies, e.g. Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS), Hoverfly Recording Scheme (HRS), etc.