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In 2019 we learned that the world’s insects are facing an extinction crisis: more than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. When insects disappear, entire ecosystems suffer as a result. That’s why more than 70 scientists from around the world have put together a new “roadmap to insect recovery” that calls for comprehensive global action to protect insects like tacking GHG emissions and drastically limiting the use of pesticides and insecticides.
These are some of the high-level actions that scientists propose to combat insect extinction:
Taking aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
Drastically reducing the use of fertilizer and pesticides
Reversing recent trends in agricultural intensification
Promoting the diversification and maintenance of locally adapted land-use techniques;
Reducing identified local threats such as light, water or noise pollution, invasive species
Prioritizing the import of goods that are not produced at the cost of healthy, species-rich ecosystems;
Funding educational and outreach programs/ investing in capacity building to create a new generation of insect conservationists and providing knowledge and skills to existing professionals (particularly in developing countries). This is perhaps the biggest emphasis that the scientists make: we need MORE KNOWLEDGE.
Phases of the Roadmap: As Phys explained, the steps to be taken are divided into immediate, mid- and long-term actions. First of all, there are a number of actions coined as ‘no-regret solutions’ that can be taken immediately and regardless of new knowledge still to come—as they will not just benefit single insect species. Secondly, there is the urgent need to prioritize: which species, areas, and issues need our attention the most.
For the mid-term, new experiments should be planned to clarify which stress factors cause what effects as well as to gain knowledge in understudied areas.
More long-term actions would include the formation of public-private partnerships and sustainable financing initiatives to restore and create places to live for the insects.
Why This Matters: Insects are often overlooked and undervalued. When polar bears are threatened by human activity, headlines follow, but it’s hard to drum up the same interest for the likes of beetles. As NatGeo explained, almonds in California or watermelons in Florida wouldn’t be available if it were not for bees. Insects also return nutrients to the earth. If they weren’t around, the amount of decay and rot all over the place would be terrible. To preserve biodiversity and our way of life, we must take the conservation of insects very seriously.
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