Green Councillor Kevin Pressland: Insects are vital to human life and welfare

The importance of insects such as bees Photo Paul Rider/Thanet Green Party,

Green Councillor Kevin Pressland is a passionate campaigner for nature and the natural environment.  His understanding of the threats faced by the natural world is based on expertise gained from a 40-year career in horticulture, garden design and sustainable land management.

Here he highlights the crisis in our insect populations and the danger this poses for human life:

We need insects

We are facing a crisis in our insect populations. Recent figures show a 69% reduction in insect numbers in the last 10 years in Kent and loss of insect numbers for decades previously. The average loss of insect populations in the last 10 years in English counties is 59%.

We ignore the plight of insects at our peril. Our welfare depends on insects for pollination, to feed birds and other small animals, and for soil and water health.

Almost 75% of our crops/produce are reliant in one way or another from the work of insects in the UK. Important species here are bees (wild solitary bees and bumblebees, as well as domesticated honeybees), flies (including hoverflies and bee-flies), butterflies, moths, wasps, and beetles.

The food chain

Photo Paul Rider/Thanet Green Party,

In turn, these creatures feed a plethora of species of birds, amphibians, and freshwater aquatic life. They are also intrinsic to healthy soils – whether it be carotid beetles that predate on slugs or insect associates like nematodes who also help control slug populations.

There is strong evidence that the decline in insect numbers has been happening since the push towards intensive farming, including the use of cocktails of chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. This has been exacerbated by major changes in land management, loss of hedgerows, wildlife corridors (fundamental to insects, birds and mammals) and reduction in arable field stubble.

Insects are often adversely affected by the constant onslaught on our remaining semi natural and ancient woodlands, with authorities often giving the impression that these can easily be replaced by just growing a few more trees.

What can we do

Wildlife corridors are vital. They are needed through towns, through the countryside and through new developments, to connect remaining fragmented habitats. When we are building many more properties, we also need to be creating green corridors through these developments that both improve people’s quality of life and create those important wildlife corridors.

Farming is changing

Subsidies for farming are changing. The old ‘Basic Income Scheme’ effectively gave money for how many hectares you had (nothing for those below 5 hectares of land), generally without any specific obligations on the use of this money unless you agreed to be in additional schemes such as Countryside Stewardship. But a transition is happening.

Now farmers will only get subsidies based on public good criteria, including better soil management, creating habitats such as hedgerows and tree planting (agroforestry), wildflower meadows, repairing enhancing river and wetland landscapes, under the Environmental Land Management Scheme. There is a large range of options that farmers can choose – but there are no obligations to take these on.

The Regenerative Agriculture Conference in June this year was even bigger with over 6000 attendees’, many farmers who are searching for systems that minimise inputs, create more cyclical farming systems

At a local level

Photo Paul Rider/Thanet Green Party,

At local level, we can all manage our gardens in ways that support insects and other wildlife – see for example

For more information on sustainable farming practices see and for agroforestry see


  1. I noticed how concerned TDC Is all the building work going on up westwood/hain rd area , all that farm land where our insects live and birds feed

  2. Ah thats the excuse for industrial levels of weeds all atound Thanet.All the back streets are full of weeds caused from a never sweep policy.We maybe a contender for Britains most unkempt area.

  3. Why haven’t the Green party come out and voiced their outrage at the Labour Party who have announced that they will allow developers to build on even more Greenfield agricultural sites and Green spaces when they come into power ? The Labour party’s plans for house building will be the biggest threat to the UK’s food security, and insect and wildlife populations in generations but the Green party stay silent on the matter.

    • Concerned – it’s worth knowing that Thanet Green Party leader, Mike Garner, has a motion to TDC asking to pause all new-builds over 10 houses untill a proper review is completed.
      This comes on the back of one of our main points in the recent local elections. It also reflects the feedback we’ve had from hundreds of resident questionnaires across Thanet in recent years.
      This is not a Green Pty who are silent.
      We have to wait and see what our Labour led TDC will do.

  4. One of the biggest lost of habit and it’s never mentioned for some reason is peoples gardens.

    Front gardens turned into paving. Back gardens cover in slabs or decking or plastic grass that cant be recycled.

    This has a massive effect on flooding and the lack of insects and birds.

    • I saw a picture of a bee, the caption read “when I go I’m taking you lot with me”.
      Sadly, so true!

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