IUCN develops three Action Plans for threatened pollinator groups in Europe
In May 2023, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival Commission, the Invertebrate Conservation Committee, the Hoverfly Specialist Group, and Buglife, finalised three Action Plans outlining conservation needs and priorities for threatened pollinator species in the EU.
These Action Plans were developed within the framework of an EU-funded project initiated in April 2021. Over a two-year period, the project convened species experts, environmental NGOs, academics, protected areas staff, and governmental authorities from across the continent in three thematic workshops. Each workshop provided stakeholders with an opportunity to collaboratively shape a shared conservation vision for specific pollinator groups, establishing goals and actions to address current and future threats. The resulting Action Plans are a product of this collective effort and align with the Guidelines for Species Conservation Planning (IUCN SSC 2017), set by the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG).
The initial Action Plan, "Canarian Islands endemic pollinators of the Laurel Forest zone - Conservation plan 2023-2028," focuses on four insect species—two butterflies, one bee, and one hoverfly—cohabiting the ancient Laurel Forest habitat. While once widespread in the Mediterranean area, this ecosystem, prevalent in the Canary Islands, has faced significant destruction and degradation due to human activity. The decline of this habitat, coupled with threats from alien species and climate change, poses a substantial risk to the species addressed in this Action Plan.
The second Action Plan, "Teasel-plant specialised bees in Europe - Conservation action plan 2023–2030," highlights the challenges faced by wild bees specialised in teasel plants. These bees are particularly vulnerable to extinction as changes in land use lead to the decline of suitable habitats and the removal of teasel plants critical for their survival. The reduction of host plants, due to agricultural intensification and the decrease of xerothermic grassland, is contributing to the disappearance of the six species addressed in this Plan.
The final Action Plan is dedicated to six hoverfly species specialised in veteran trees and wet, decaying wood. These saproxylic insects, vital pollinators, also serve as nutrient recyclers, pest predators, and indicators of ecosystem health. "Hoverflies specialised to veteran trees in Europe – Conservation Action Plan 2023–2030" emphasizes the significance of forestry practices that consider the needs of pollinator species dependent on dead wood and ancient trees. The removal of veteran trees, the replacement of key tree species, and hoverfly-unfriendly woodland management pose threats to these species.
Following a comprehensive review of the relevant species, the three Action Plans establish specific goals aimed at improving the status of these pollinators. For each goal, the authors, in collaboration with various stakeholders, have designed a set of actions, along with specific indicators, timelines, and involved actors.
In the upcoming months and years, the outlined actions will need to be translated into reality. To this end, the Action Plans will bring together stakeholders to drive positive change in the field, working towards the realization of the conservation vision developed over two years of collaborative effort.
For those interested in learning more about other threatened European pollinators, please refer to the report "Species Action Plans for EU Pollinators Shortlist of 15 Species Action Plans" which compiles the fifteen pollinator groups considered for this project and that would greatly benefit from specific action plans.
For additional information about the project, please contact Aurore Trottet.