Connecting Bees, Bugs and Biodiversity – including Bacteria and Human Beings

Friday 5th September 2014

New research is putting a great big bold underline to Buglife’s work to put restore flower rich meadows to the countryside and people’s lives.

Meadows Make You Happy

An important review by Capaldi, Dopko, and Zelenski  2014 has revealed that connectedness with, and experience of, nature makes people more happy in their lives. Those who are more connected to nature tended to experience more positive affect, vitality, and life satisfaction compared to those less connected to nature.

Experiencing a bounty of butterflies, bees, flowers and grasshoppers is treasured, but the effect on underlying happiness is now clear.Children in meadow © Greg Hitchcock

Meadows Prevent Allergies

There is an increasing realisation that humans are part of an ecosystem.  We have come to think of our interaction with other species as being mainly a question of what we eat (in a few circumstances what eats us as well!). But we are not merely consumers, our bodies are a substrate and we a symbiont in the ecosystem.  Our skin and guts are full of many organisms with which we have evolved on this planet for millennia. As we have retreated to sterile houses we have lost physical connection with our ecosystem and our relationships have been damaged. 

It is increasingly understood that our isolation has resulted in a huge growth of allergies and anaphylactic shock, and that common bacteria can prevent allergies.  As humans evolved at least in part in meadows this is where many of our familiar bacteria occur. Exposing young children to the rich biodiversity of meadow bacteria will make them healthier.

Half the Earth Should be Biodiverse

This week Buglife Vice-President and leading natural scientist Prof. Edward O Wilson went public in the Smithsonian with a challenge to humanity – “It’s been in my mind for years, that people haven’t been thinking big enough—even conservationists. Half Earth is the goal, but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang onto. I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish.”

Linking it all Together

It is not surprising that being in biodiverse meadows makes us happy when you know it also makes us healthy.  And creating corridors for wildlife is not a ‘them or us’ issue, it is a ‘them and us’ issue. Whitleigh Pictorial Meadow © Jenny Wytcherley

By creating corridors of wild flower rich meadows across the countryside we will deliver a country that is richer and happier.  Buglife has already made a great start with our B-Lines – they have been mapped across Northern England and keen farmers are starting to fill them with wildlife habitat.

Whether you want the B in B-Lines to stand for Bees, Bugs, Biodiversity, Bacteria or Human Beings it is important that we all work to a template because creating and restoring meadows in linear patterns makes them five times as effective at enabling species to move around the countryside.

Managing meadows in lines, such as along river valleys, the coast or footpaths, helps people to experience a wealth of biodiversity, but it is also important that the urban populations have access to the benefits of meadow biodiversity.  This is why our ‘Get Britain Buzzing’ projects, working with local authorities to put wildflowers back into parks and verges are so important. 

We now have ‘Get Britain Buzzing’ projects  in Glasgow, Fife, Plymouth, Peterborough, and York.  We are planning new projects, in London, Torbay, Wales and Central Scotland and are open to further suggestions!