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  • Earthling 6:43 am on March 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chickens, France, municipalities, waste reduction   

    In France, chickens given as gifts to reduce waste 

    “Municipalities are offering people chickens in order to reduce their household waste. The initiative started in rural communities and has now spread to cities. These gift chickens are a cost-effective investment for municipalities in the medium term, in addition to being good for sustainable development.

    The idea is simple: organic waste makes up 40% of our residual household waste. To decrease waste levels in cities, it was suggested to distribute gallinaceous birds. These birds can gobble down up to 75 kilos of organic waste per year.

    Since not everyone has a garden or a terrace, some municipalities have installed collective chicken coops in schools or retirement homes, for example.”

    Translated from France Inter: https://www.franceinter.fr/emissions/l-esprit-d-initiative/l-esprit-d-initiative-04-decembre-2017

     
  • Earthling 1:39 pm on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bees in France, France, Insect Pollinators in France, NGO, Noé, Pollinators, Wild Pollinators   

    The Decline of Insect Pollinators in France 

    The Decline of Insect Pollinators in France

    Noé demands that appropriate actions be taken

    (Translated from an article by Cyrille on CDURABLE.info)

    On September 27,  the ANSES (National Health Security Agency) authorized the use of two pesticides based on sulfoxaflor, a substance that has the same mode of action as the neonicotinoid pesticides  known for their harmful effect on bees. At the same time, Noé warns of the critical decline of insect pollinator populations and demands that urgent, appropriate action be taken to restore wild insect pollinator populations.

    One of the solutions that has recently become widespread to combat the decline of insect pollinators in France is the installation of beehives. These are only useful for one of the 6,500 species of insect pollinators in France: the domestic bee. Beyond just being inadequate, this solution could even be counterproductive for wild pollinators (solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, bumblebees, etc.), in particular because of the food competition it provokes between these species who no longer have enough food resources at their disposal.

    Noé demands that appropriate actions be taken to safeguard all the wild pollinators.

    Insect pollinators, little known and yet indispensable

    There are no less than 6500 species of insect pollinators in metropolitan France. Among the almost 900 species of bees in France, most of them are solitary, and only the sole domestic species, Apis Mellifera, produces honey.

    In spite of their indispensable role in agriculture and the dynamics of natural environments, wild pollinators remain poorly known by the general public. For example,  wild bees are quite different from their domestic cousin, and even quite different from each other: their sizes, their functions, the flowers they forage, their nests, the times of the day when they can be observed, so many peculiarities that make them unique. Yet only 40% of wild bees have a known conservation status, and among those, one out of five is endangered!

    Populations of pollinating species, of course including bees, are clearly declining in industrialized countries. In Europe, for example, the population of wild and domestic bees has declined by 37%, while the butterfly population has declined by 31%. The causes are numerous and essentially linked to human activities: widespread use of pesticides, the disappearance of habitats and nesting places (especially hedges and groves), scarcity of wild plants rich in nectar, the introduction of alien species, and various pollutions.

    But if the losses among domestic bee populations cause a strong reaction, thus expressing a true sympathy for this species domesticated by Man thousands of years ago for the production of honey, what we should really be concerned with is the preservation of all wild pollinating species. This is because their disappearance is a serious ecological issue. 90% of wild plants and more than 75% of food crops in the world, so practically all fruits and vegetables, are dependent on wild pollinators. The contribution of the domestic bee only represents around a third of the total pollination activity, and the rest is provided by wild pollinators. [1] Furthermore, scientists have shown that the yield and quality of crops depend on both a diversity and abundance of pollinators. Thus, the complimentarity between wild insects and domestic bees is essential for improving the quality and yield of crops. [2]

    Solutions implemented are often inadequate to preserve wild pollinators

    Solutions for stopping this decline are conceived and applied, but they are quite often inadequate due to a lack of knowledge, or because they arise more from a fashionable movement than from proper ecological management.

    Thus, in France, more and more companies, groups and individuals are installing beehives in their sites, green spaces and gardens. Far from conserving all wild pollinators, these hives are refuges only for the domestic bee. Once a number of hives are installed in a given territory, they can have disastrous consequences for the wild pollinator populations. How can one support biodiversity while only safeguarding one out of 6,500 pollinating species? Can one say that one is saving wolves by simply owning dogs? It’s the same kind of logic.

    All the more so since most beehives in France house varieties of the domestic bee that do not originate from Northwest Europe. In fact, the only subspecies of domestic bee native to this region of Europe is the black bee. This subspecies is sadly becoming increasingly rare in the apiaries of our region, as they give way to subspecies imported from other European regions (Italy, Caucasus, Slovenia, etc.) with the sole objective of enabling more productive colonies. The installation of beehives housing imported domestic bee populations cannot be an adequate means of preserving the ordinary local biodiversity.

    Real food competition between domestic bees and wild pollinators

    According to recent studies [3], the installation of beehives near a unique source of food is very likely to create a situation of direct, fierce competition between domestic bees and wild pollinators over access to food resources. In this case, domestic and wild bees are no longer complementary but rather must compete for survival. First of all, there is the number advantage: a colony of domestic bees will have a numerical superiority to solitary wild bees (a medium-sized hive contains some 40,000 bees). Furthermore, the foraging distance of wild bees rarely exceeds 300 meters, as opposed to a maximum of 5 kilometers for domestic bees, which makes them much more efficient at using food resources.

    This competition can sometimes even go so far as to cause the extinction of wild species [4]. In fact, wild bees are often specialized for certain plants and only able to forage a few species of flowers, whereas the domestic bee is very generalized. The domestic bee can thus live near monoculture fields or homogenous woods, as opposed to the more specialized wild bees.

    Domestic bees “guardians of the environment”, really?

    The presence of domestic bees is often presented as an indicator of the quality of ecosystems. This claim oversimplifies things. In reality, although hives can be very productive of honey, whether in urban or suburban areas, this only gives an indication of the quantity of food resources available in their radius of activity, and has no bearing on the diversity of plant species or their local character.

    On the other hand, the decline of domestic bee populations is a very good indicator of degradation in the areas around the hives, highlighting in a simple and direct way the usage of pesticides, the disappearance, fragmentation and pollution of their habitats, or even the presence of exotic species that are a direct threat to the survival of the species (as in the case of the Asian hornet which attacks domestic bees).

    Simple solutions do exist to stop the decline of pollinators and restore their populations all across the land. Noé proposes actions and tools for all, and especially for elected officials, site managers, land planners, etc., in the hopes of restoring areas of refuge, reproduction and feeding for insect pollinators.

    1. Stop the usage of pesticides

    As a precondition for the restoration of populations of wild pollinators and domestic bees, the neonicotinoid family of pesticides must be forbidden. These molecules will be forbidden to use in France as of September 1, 2018, for all farmers, groups and individuals. However, there is still a possibility of derogations that would delay the effective application of the ban until 2020, even though alternatives (without synthetic chemical products) exist! Noé promotes these alternatives through its action programs for agroecology and ecological management of public and private green spaces. Noé also suggests to integrate educational modules on alternatives to pesticides into curriculums for the education of professionals in landscaping, horticulture and agriculture, in order to bring about practical and lasting changes.

    1. Promote alternatives to pesticides in agriculture

    Agriculture has an important role in the preservation of insect pollinators because of its territorial dominance, its impact on countrysides and ecosystems, and its obligations in terms of meeting the food needs of populations. Noé thinks that we must first and foremost cease the usage of phytosanitary products and encourage practices that respect the environment, such as organic agriculture, permaculture, and agroecology in general. In this context, crop combination, the organic struggle and even biocontrol will bring concrete pest-control solutions that are respectful of man, the environment and pollinators. Let us recall that agriculture represents around 90% of phytosanitary product usage, and that only 4% of usable agricultural land today is organic.

    1. Reduce monocultures, deserts devoid of food for many specialized insect pollinators, and offer refuge to these insects at the edges of fields

    Many species of pollinators are specialized in foraging only a few species. For them, monocultures are deserts in terms of food resources. To address this, Noé proposes measures respecting biodiversity and pollinators in different agricultural sectors, in order to develop agroecological practices, especially in the agro-food sector where the yield of crops is directly dependent on pollinators (fruit trees, sunflowers, rapeseed, etc.). Noé provides tools and protocols for developing and monitoring measures to restore favorable environments for pollinators near agricultural sites (grass strips, summer fallows, prairies, hedges, ponds, etc.).

    1. Promote a diversity of regional flowers

    Land planners need coherent technical solutions to restore environments affected by developments. Noé creates eco-regional mixtures adapted to local biogeographical conditions, composed of local plant species, with a preference for regionally produced seeds. These mixtures are specially designed to rapidly respond to land planners’ needs, while supporting biodiversity and especially wild pollinators.

    The “Noé wild pollinators” grain mix, developed for France, was evaluated for three years and its functionality and interest for insect pollinators were thus scientifically validated: in three years, the “Noé wild pollinators” mix attracted almost 40 times more wild and domestic bees than a conventional mix for late mowing.

    1. Install shelters for wild bees

    Hotels for wild bees are increasingly often installed in gardens of individuals, green spaces of groups, and companies’ parks, yet they nevertheless require some precautions. The best places to install bee hotels are sunny, relatively warm and dry, and at least 50 cm from the ground to prevent prolonged contact with the humidity of surrounding vegetation. Avoid places that are exposed to prevailing winds. An exposure to the south or southeast is more likely to be favorable for the lodging of pollinators.

    1. Limit artificial lighting

    Recent studies show that in artificially lighted sites, the number of visits to flowers by pollinators decreases by 62%! Besides this observation, and with regard to the mobility of nocturnal species, a number of factors point to the necessity of adjusting lighting (limitation if not removal) near ecological corridors (TVB), to limit the fragmenting impact of light and guarantee the functioning of existing corridors. This action is often an implementation of the idea of “night corridors” or “black corridors.” So, maintaining conserved nocturnal environments is a necessity for biodiversity, especially within the most remarkable territories. Noé recommends adopting practices that limit harmful light and integrating them into territorial action plans.

    1. Better manage the installation of beehives in cities

    In recent years, cities have become homes to beehives overwhelmingly supported by professionals and individuals. With less pesticides, a higher medium temperature than rural areas, and short flowering cycles allowing for regular feeding, the city would appear to have only advantages for pollinators. Nevertheless, certain precautions must be taken. The most important one for Noé is to above all use local bees who are adapted to the climatic and geographical conditions of the region. Next, in order to avoid food competition, have specialists verify that the installation of the hives won’t significantly impact wild pollinators, for example by checking to see if the surroundings of the hives have enough floral resources and shelters for regional wild bees.

    1. Better know the diversity of wild pollinators in order to better protect them

    Far too few are aware that there are species of bees other than the domestic bee, and that they are for the most part solitary and don’t produce honey. Similarly, the pollinating role of butterflies, hoverflies and some coleopteras (beetles) is very little known. Take the time to observe them in a garden, a city green space or in the countryside, and you will become more aware of their diversity. The creation of an Observatory for solitary bees by Noé not only allows them to make these species known to the general public, but also and most importantly it enables everyone to actively participate in the furthering of scientific knowledge of these species through a participative science system.

    …for the benefit of all!

    It’s important to remember that the protection of pollinators is a positive investment for:

    • Agriculturalists, whose crops depend on the service of pollinators, and who gain from the complementarity between domestic and wild bees, which increase crop yields and the nutritional quality of produce when there are sufficient resources available to them.
    • Companies, who can effectively participate in protecting pollinators, while involving their collaborators in meaningful activities.
    • The general public, which can actively participate in furthering knowledge of these species by getting involved through Noé’s participative science programs.

    Noé and Pollinator Conservation, A Long History

    Noé is a non-profit general interest organization that was founded in 2001. Its purpose is to protect and restore biodiversity in France and abroad, for a durable and living world where humanity and biodiversity can live in harmony.

    With a pragmatic, positive and optimistic approach, Noé has chosen to take action by giving every one of us the means to be an actor in the preservation and restoration of biodiversity.

    For more than 15 years, Noé has been implementing land programs to restore areas of refuge, reproduction and feeding for insect pollinators.

    Noé is also behind the “Act Together for Wild Pollinators” program, which has the purpose of supporting the maintenance and restoration of wild insect pollinator populations, both common and endangered, in metropolitan France. This program responds to a strong need to improve our knowledge of the status of wild pollinators and to conserve endangered species, as well as our medium-term need to restore ordinary natural environments in both urban and rural settings, and to mobilize civil society (general public, groups, companies) on this major environmental issue.

    Noé’s programs thus enable us to take direct action to ensure the protection of pollinators, along with programs to restore the ordinary natural environments they depend on for food and reproduction.

    Noé also engages in advocacy toward policymakers in the hopes of integrating the issue of the maintenance of insect pollinator populations into structural policies relating to agriculture, land development, and urban development (an increasing number of wild pollinators are finding refuge in cities, paradoxically because of more favorable conditions for their development than in certain rural areas, especially in terms of heat, pollution, abundance and permanence of food resources, and moderated usage of phytosanitary products).

    [1] Report of the IPBES 3A working group for policymakers for the thematic evaluation of pollinators, pollination and food production.

    [2]Breeze, T.D., Bailey, A.P., Balcombe, K.G. & Potts, S.G. (2011): Pollinisation services in the UK: How important are honeybees? Agriculture, Ecosystems.

    [3] Massively Introduced Managed Species and Their Consequences for Plant–Pollinator Interactions – Advances in Ecological Research Volume 57, 2017, Pages 147–199

    [4] Bombuscullumanus — an extinct European bumblebee species? – Apidologie – March 2013, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 121–132

    [5] Guide de gestion écologique pour favoriser les Abeilles Sauvages et la Nature en Ville, Urban Bees, Life +, INRA Avignon, Arthropologia, 2014

    This Article was translated by Ulysses from the exquisite French article on CDURABLE.info

     

     
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