earthrise travels to the UK where old industrial sites are being turned into safe havens for insects.
With a long history of habitat loss and industrialised farming, Europe has seen some of the worse cases of insect decline and extinction in the world.
“For some species, it’s too late, some have gone extinct. But for the majority, they’re still here and we need to make sure we look after them,” says Professor Dave Goulson, who has been studying insects for over 20 years and understands just how damaging their rapid decline could be.
“We should be absolutely terrified about this, it should be something that everyone is talking about and everyone is eager to fix. Because if we don’t, we face a really bleak future without them,” he says.
Wildlife is using this as a refuge and really thriving here. There's over 2,500 different species on this site alone, including some found nowhere else.
In the UK, some groups are taking the warnings of entomologists seriously and in Canvey Wick, Bug Life, an organisation dedicated to the protection of insects, has set up UK’s first nature reserve for insects.
Canvey Wick has been described as “Britain’s little brownfield rainforest,” there are bugs everywhere, so many that a team of volunteers carry out surveying work throughout the year.
“This site used to be an old refinery … It’s been abandoned for more than 40 years. It hasn’t been managed, there’s been no pesticides. So it’s providing natural habitats that has been lost in the wider landscape. Wildlife is using this as a refuge and really thriving here,” says Sarah Henshall, an entomologist at Bug Life.
“There’s over 2,500 different species on this site alone, including some found nowhere else. This is why this site is the UK’s first bug reserve … there’s all these different habitats in a really small space. Bare open ground to bask, burrow and nest, flowers to feed on. Scrub and trees for overwinter in and provide of a shelter. It’s an amazing mosaic. It’s got everything they need, all in one place,” Henshall explains.
Since Bug Life started surveying nine years ago, three insect species believed to be extinct have been discovered in Canvey Wick.