Around 15 per cent of Malta’s total agricultural produce – or €8 million a year – is dependent on bees and other pollinating species, highlighting the urgency of action to reverse their decline, according to experts.

“Protecting pollination safeguards not only our food security and the wellbeing of our farmers but also our culture and identity,” said Mario Balzan, a pollination researcher at Mcast.

A report published today by Friends of the Earth and the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council calls for Commonwealth countries to develop national action plans and to engage society in action to protect pollinators.

The report also calls for a Commonwealth-wide monitoring programme and investing in university and other academic programmes to provide more pollination experts.

“Bee populations are in heavy decline around the world due to habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use,” said Paul de Zylva from Friends of the Earth UK.

“Bees pollinate 87 per cent of the plant species that we use for food evidence and materials. Billions of people and millions of businesses around the world are dependent on them.”

Globally, he noted, the economic value of wild and managed pollination was estimated at €153 billion in 2005, and was likely to have increased significantly in the last decade.

“Action for bees and pollinators underpins Commonwealth concerns about resilience, food security, biodiversity and functioning natural ecosystems,” he said.

“The Commonwealth can be at the forefront of action to ensure that we maintain what we have and restore what we’ve lost.”

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