Insect Responsible Sourcing Regions: Bringing insect conservation to the field

European Business & Biodiversity Campaign - News

Insect Responsible Sourcing Regions: Bringing insect conservation to the field

The population of insects in Germany is dwindling - and at an alarming rate. In the project "Insect Responsible Sourcing Regions", the Global Nature Fund is involved in developing solutions for a new culture of insect protection in dialogue with agriculture. The goal is a strategy that proves effective not only at the farm level, but also at the landscape level. A press release from our partner Lake Constance Foundation provides information on the start of the project.

Insects suffer from the intensification of
agriculture. "Insect Responsible Sourcing Regions"
presents strategies to secure their population on a regional level.
Photo © Udo Gattenlöhner / GNF
Radolfzell, 10.12.2020: The results of studies from recent years are alarming: insect mortality has taken on dramatic dimensions and a reversal of the negative trend is not in prospect. About 48 % of the wild bee species in Germany are considered endangered or already extinct; numerous species are on the list of endangered species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the largest environmental organisation worldwide and author of the Red Lists. The diversity of insects on and in the soil is no better off. Thus, they occupy one of the top places in the sad statistics on the loss of biodiversity.

Intensive agriculture takes its toll on insects

The main causes for the loss of insects have been identified: Primarily, intensive agriculture is the reason for the disappearance of habitats and food sources. Even the former "common flowers" have declined by about half and only about 2 % of the grassland nowadays is rich in species. Pesticides - especially those with the unpronounceable name neonicotinoids - have dangerous side effects or even have a lethal effect on wild bees and other insects.

The Lake Constance Foundation has long been working to make agriculture part of the solution. With the new EU LIFE-funded project "Insect Responsible Sourcing Regions", seven producing regions are specifically addressed for the protection of insects - and biodiversity as a whole. It is supported by experienced organisations and companies: Global Nature Fund, Netzwerk Blühende Landschaften, Nestlé Germany and Bäuerliche Erzeugergemeinschaft Schwäbisch Hall. All are contributing their expertise to the four-year project with a volume of 3.4 million euros.

Biodiversity conservation at landscape level

Knowledge and concrete measures are abundant due to the numerous studies and pilot projects - the big deficit is to bring the measures into the field. Insect Responsible Sourcing Regions focuses on insect conservation beyond the boundaries of a farm: representatives of the most important land users in the region - first and foremost agriculture - jointly develop a regional Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).

The initial situation regarding insects is been recorded, i.e. strengths and weaknesses as well as potentials for improvement. The goals and measures of the regional BAPs are broken down to the farms: both the fruit grower and the cereal grower or milk producer contribute with a farm-specific BAP to achieving the goals. On pioneer farms, particularly innovative measures are implemented and documented. Other land users such as forest owners, raw material extraction companies or municipalities with leased land and green spaces are also included.

The Lake Constance Foundation and its partners support the farmers and other stakeholders with extensive training activities and the Biodiversity Performance Tool, an instrument that facilitates the recording of the current situation and the development of a Biodiversity Action Plan. The development in the regions is recorded via a monitoring system and monitored by the regional working groups.

The monitoring activities are supported by people who want to get involved in Citizen Science. They are trained accordingly to monitor the development of certain key species.

Challenge and promote agriculture and the food industry

Insect and biodiversity conservation does not come for free and farmers who apply very good agricultural practices make an important contribution to the protection of a common good. This contribution should be rewarded appropriately. To achieve this, the project partners are developing a concept for an agro-environmental programme that can be applied throughout the European Union. Agro-environmental programmes are an important instrument for integrating environmental concerns into agriculture, and in future the establishment of insect-friendly cultivation regions is to be particularly promoted.

Nevertheless, the food industry is also challenged! The bitter price war in the trade is mostly fought at the expense of the environment, social standards and farmers who do not have highly industrialised farms. Consumers must realise that quality has its price and environmental quality must be part of it. A special marketing strategy and communication for consumers should boost demand for products from Insect Responsible Sourcing Regions and ensure that prudence and special responsibility for farmers also pay off.

The Lake Constance Foundation and the Global Nature Fund tackle this challenging project with a positive feeling. After all, the successful initiative with fruit from Lake Constance and the Rewe Group shows that considerable successes can be achieved when everyone involved pulls together.
For more information:
Lake Constance Foundation
Patrick Trötschler
Tel.: +49 7732 9995 41
Global Nature Fund (GNF)
Viktor Konitzer
Fritz-Reichle-Ring 4
78315 Radolfzell, Deutschland
Tel.: +49 7732 9995 874