Insect collapse – can we prevent an ecological catastrophe?
Human actions are causing insects all over the world to decline so rapidly that we are threatening ourselves with a ”catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the latest review of scientific research. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The worst case scenario suggests insect populations could vanish within a century.
If you think about it, when was the last time you had to clean lots of insects off your car windscreen?
Why insects matter
The impact of insect decline on the food chain is seen in the loss of many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. These tiny creatures are also vital for the production of human food sources through pollination of crops and fruits.
So is insect decline unstoppable?
No, in fact it could be relatively easy to arrest and even reverse. CEC’s intelligent, innovative landscape design for the Truro Park and Ride at Threemilestone ten years ago has resulted in a seven-fold increase in biodiversity, which is exceptional for a heavily used 1200 space car park. By creating the right habitats, specifying planting that benefits pollinators, and including features such as insect hotels most development sites can deliver a ‘net gain’ improvement for insect populations. This in turn provides food for other animals.
Transforming green deserts
CEC’s recent work with Cornwall Council saw it helping to create swathes of wildflowers in seven towns around the county. The £3.5 million pound Green Infrastructure for Growth (GI4G) project has transformed previously dull, green deserts in urban areas into rich, wildlife friendly pockets of biodiversity. This has boosted insect numbers and provided residents with healthy green space that they can enjoy.
Ecological mitigation to protect existing habitats, together with landscape design which celebrates the value of hedgerows, trees and wildflowers, is the best way to approach working with nature rather than against it.
Take a look at our green infrastructure page for more information on how to design with nature.