Issue – Pollination, biodiversity and our well-being: everything is interconnected
Pollination, biodiversity and us
On average, more than 30% of bee colonies disappear in Belgium every year. The acceptable rate is 10%... This is an excellent indicator of the extent to which pollinators in general (bees, butterflies, beetles, etc.) are threatened.
Yet, the well-being of pollinators and man is closely interlinked! That fact is not purely an environmental one, it also happens to be an economic reality.
Pollination is the manner in which most flowers reproduce. It entails the process of carrying a pollen grain from the stamen (male organ) to the pistil (female organ) which allows plants to be fertilised. More often than not, pollen grains are carried by pollinating insects (entomophilous pollination), in the main, bees.
Biodiversity and food diversity are by and large the result of this fertilisation process.
Food diversity: For 30% of our food, we directly depend on pollinators. E.g.: tree fruit production (pears, apples, cherries, plums, etc.), soft fruit (strawberries, redcurrants, raspberries etc.), market gardening (gherkins, cucumbers, melons…), seed production (carrots, salads, chicory, etc.), oil production (rape, sunflower, flaxseed, etc.).
Some studies deem that if bees were to disappear, Belgium would have to import an extra 20 to 40% of its food with all the ensuing and obvious negative effects on the economy, energy consumption, health, etc. Now, if the current trend was to continue that myth could become reality within 25 to 50 years from now…. A recent study conducted at the University of Reading, England, concluded that, for all the crops to be properly pollinated, Europe would need another 13.4 million colonies of bees, i.e. another 7 billion bees.
Biodiversity: proper fertilisation of plant species by pollinators is essential if part of the flora and fauna are to be conserved (food, reproduction…).
And man? Pollinators have real value:
- Economic value: 84% of species we cultivate depend on pollinators. These species give us raw materials, medicines, food for humans, foodstuffs for livestock, biofuels.... The global value of the services pollinators provide amounts to approximately 153 billion euro a year.
- Ecological value: conservation of flora and fauna has a direct or indirect impact on the quality of our water, on soil fertility and stability, on climate regulation…
- Emotional value: pollination has a beneficial effect on our health, the quality of our green spaces, the beauty of places…
- Ethical value: pollinators help to conserve numerous species.