Nature is the Artist's Eternal Muse, We Must Protect It
Neonicotinoid chemicals where invented to allow farmers to spray their crops once only as seeds in an indoor environment. The novel pesticide was designed to protect the plants through-out their life but to not spread excess poison into the environment. This would ensure that only bugs affecting the crop plant would be dosed. It sounded great and farmers around the world all signed up to take part in this seemingly eco-conscious alternative.
Then the bees started to die, not just a bit but in serious numbers. Estimates have predicted extinctions within our life-times if trends continue. The major change in the world of flowering plants that coincided with this sudden decline was the introduction of the neonicotinoid pesticides. A casual relationship at first, with no proof of a genuine link, the world of agriculture wiped their brows and continued to apply the new chemical.
Environmental groups began to apply pressure, and with studies undertaken to show the link between neonicotinoids and the bee deaths mounting up, eventually a few and by no means all global administrations agreed to curb their use. The problem didn't go away, and the deaths are still affecting us on a global scale. Pollinating flowering plants is a vital function of flying insects and without them we'd lose many fruits and seeds.
As recently as last October, a paper was released in the journal Science which showed proof that neonicotinoid molecules were present in honey. This is the product of bees that we eat ourselves, and knowing it contains this pesticide is a little off putting. Perhaps that's why this discovery wasn't made big news as our farming communities probably need the sales.
This is something of great importance though, as the knock on effects of losing bees would be extremely harmful to our ecosystem. Using natural methods to eliminate pests is of course the best way to do so, and by remembering that not all mini-beasts want to eat the crop but what lives on them can help us find ways of attracting the right communities that keep things in check.
Finding ways to protect nature and keep our greedy hands from damaging what is left of it is something that most of us want to do, and so politicians find ways of promoting this ethic in order to win votes. It's no coincidence that Brazil are about to have elections this year and that their government exceeded their promise to protect a certain quota of marine life by protecting not one but two sites of extreme importance.
What was once a meagre 1.5% of protected waters has now been increased to a much more promising 24.5%. The Convention of Biodiversity recommends a manageable 10% for all coastal nations by 2020 so this makes the South American giant a true world leader in the promotion of this modern and vital world view.
The surprising and much needed announcement was made during the 8th World Water forum, which took place last Friday March 23rd, hosted by Brazil. The United Nations Environment Executive Director, Erik Solheim, was present to receive the fantastic news. It is hoped that this inspires other nations to also take the lead in this area.
The protected areas lay in remote areas away from the coast of main Brazil. An archipelago chain at Sao Pedro and Sao Paulo receive the special treatment as do a volcanic island chain linking Trindade Island to the Martin Vaz Archipelago. The exquisite array of marine life that lives there include three species of turtle, twelve species of whale and dolphin, and several types of shark and ray.
We can all do our bit to protect the environment, and help it along as well. Many people set up one of these bee homes at the back of their garden. It gives them somewhere to hide and stay warm.
Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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