Just Take the B-Line

It’s not just the bees and butterflies that will benefit from these insect pathways criss-crossing the UK…

If we could take to the wing, like the bees and butterflies, and view the UK as they do, the varied landscape would unroll before us like a nature poem… Coastal cliffs and sand dunes giving way to estuaries and floodplain marshes. Upland hay meadows and chalky downlands mixing with wildflower grasslands. The heath and the moors, the peaks and river valleys, the lush forests – all creating a unique mosaic that supports life.

But the reality is that even they cannot view the UK in this way.

Wildflowers with butterflies. Photo by Emiel Molenar.

Our bees and butterflies are ‘confined to tiny fragments of habitat and unable to move across the countryside as our climate and landscape rapidly changes’, says Buglife, a charity that works to save ‘the small things that run the planet’.

Many of the pollinators we depend on for food production encounter the interruptions of urban centres and suburban sprawl, highways, railways and managed farmland devoid of what they need to survive and thrive.

They’re left with roadside verges, allotments, city parks and private gardens.

‘It has been predicted that 40-70% of species could go extinct if action is not taken to enable species to move through the landscape.’

That’s because without safe spaces to eat, rest and breed, bees, butterflies and other pollinators will continue to decline. Since the 1930s, England has lost 97% of all flower-rich grassland – that’s an area the size of Wales – and that pattern has been repeated across the rest of the UK.

And that’s where Buglife and their B-Line initiative come into it.

Over the past six years, the organisation has been working with partners to map B Lines – ‘insect pathways running through our countryside and towns’ – for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. All the maps have been completed with the exception of Scotland, which should be done by the end of the year.

Partners along these B-Lines are working to create and restore the wildflower-rich landscapes that serve as ‘stepping stones’, linking these wildlife areas together and making it easier for pollinators to travel more widely.

The goal is to ‘create and restore at least 150,000 hectares of flower-rich habitat across the UK’ and they’ve already delivered over 450 hectares.

‘A complete England B-Lines network is a real landmark step in our mission to reverse insect declines and lend a helping hand to our struggling pollinators,’ said Catherine Jones, pollinator officer at Buglife. ‘We hope that organisations and people across England will help with our shared endeavour to create thousands of hectares of new pollinator-friendly wildflower habitats along the B-Lines.’

Wildflowers in a back garden

The benefits of B-Lines go beyond creating a safe space for our pollinators. Buglife said they will also:

  • Help our wildlife respond to climate change by making it easier for them to move around
  • Increase the number of insect pollinators and the benefits these bring to ur farming sector
  • Bring nature to more people
  • Give opportunities for everyone to play their part and create the B-Line network

Visit Buglife to see if you live on a B-Line and to find ways to help our pollinators.

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