WORKING WITH NATURE
In partnership with the University of Reading School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD), the World Bee Project (WBP) vision is to contribute to a global shift towards ecological intensification.
The shared expertise SAPD and the WPB enables our partnership to develop projects and build capacity to address global agricultural challenges and to ensure important impacts through wider engagement with the public, NGOs and policy makers. Our activities focus on conservation and management of insect pollinators and pollination services to crop production and the wider environment. We help develop the science underpinning the sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to enhance and protect food and nutrition while minimising environmental impacts.
Ecological intensification has recently been developed and adopted as a key concept and driver for research and policy in sustainable agriculture. It is not merely a new approach, it is a complete shift in paradigm.
Ecological intensification sees problems as symptoms, it is a regenerating, holistic approach that supports food production and food and nutrition security while restoring the ecosystem services and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture.
THE AUTHORS OF A MAJOR UNITED NATIONS REPORT BLAME THE DECLINE OF POLLINATORS ON HABITAT LOSS, CLIMATE CHANGE AND FARMING METHODS
The report estimates that 1.4 billion jobs worldwide depend on pollinating insects such as bees, beetles and butterflies. Three quarters of the world’s crops, worth $500 billion, rely on nature’s pollinators, say the experts. In addition, the report highlights how safety procedures for new pesticides and genetically modified crops could be tightened to protect beneficial wild insects. Currently, regulators only require manufacturers to assess risks to managed honeybees, not wild species.
DEVELOPING EFFICIENCY WITHOUT SACRIFICING ECOLOGICAL OR HUMAN HEALTH
Ecological intensification involves working alongside biodiversity to increase soil and crop fertility, and to effectively manage biodiversity including insect pollinators, natural enemies and soil organisms to support sustainable food production for local growers by optimising interactions between pollinators, plants, animals, humans and the environment. The approach helps pollinators directly by conserving habitats, creating nesting sites and introducing foraging resources (flowering plants) that foster more resilient and healthier populations. It also seeks to understand the social and economic challenges facing farmers and how best practice for sustainable production can be incorporated into current practices.
Enhanced resilience of ecosystems, people, and communities is key to sustainability. Our approach helps diverse pollinators by conserving habitats and foraging resources . It recognises farmers as stakeholders in conserving biodiversity and solicits farmers as partners to create resilient landscapes that foster wildlife and preserve rural livelihoods and local knowledge. We align our efforts with existing efforts in protected conservation areas to achieve lasting outcomes at all levels.
The IPBES Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production recommends the "promotion of sustainable agriculture which helps to diversify the agricultural landscape and makes use of ecological processes as part of food production."
A BOOST IN NATIVE BIODIVERSITY MEANS A BOOST IN POLLINATOR DIVERSITY AND POLLINATION
Research shows us that even if we take out 8% of land for ecological intensification, the boost in native biodiversity means a boost in pollination and in natural predators like ladybirds that eat aphids, and in turn sustainable intensification of crops – producing just as much yields.
Research also suggests that often farmers turn to organic farming instead, but organic farming usually requires far more land for the same volume of produce and so is less efficient, and as most of the remaining uncultivated land is high value nature sites, organic farms would be unable to expand without causing further loss of habitat and damage to native biodiversity.