Parliamentary recognition of the importance and decline of invertebrates

Thursday 7th March 2024

Buglife, the only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, welcomes the recognition from the House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Committee of the importance of invertebrates to the environment and food security.

The House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Committee (SITC) has today published a report on insect decline and food security, recommending the Government increase focus and support on halting insect decline and other invertebrates.

The SITC report follows an inquiry which gathered evidence from organisations, experts, and the government, looking at the state of insects and their importance in food production.  Expert witnesses included Buglife CEO, Matt Shardlow, Presenter and Environmentalist, Chris Packham MBE and several eminent academics.

Buglife was established to work for a better understanding of invertebrates and recognition for the role they play.  Invertebrate populations are declining globally with estimates of around 40% of all insect species at risk of extinction.  Both the diversity and abundance of insects are in decline with data collected by the Bugs Matter survey suggesting that the abundance of flying insects has fallen by 64% between 2004 and 2022, with similar trends have been detected by scientific studies around the world.

The Parliamentary committee has made many of the recommendations and asks needed to restore and ensure sustainable invertebrate populations.

Craig Macadam, Buglife Conservation Director, said: “This is a welcome report from Parliamentarians.  In the past, the importance of invertebrates has not been sufficiently recognised and many of their needs are not met.  We hope that policymakers will now take forward the recommendations of the committee and develop policies to restore the populations of our smallest and most important creatures.”

The threats

Habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and Invasive Non-Native Species continue to cause declines – habitats must be restored, and these pressures reduced.

Nature restoration efforts focus mainly on a select group of insects and issues.  But today’s report extends attention to cover all invertebrates and seek a better understating of their needs.  Often neglected issues such as light pollution, habitat fragmentation and everyday chemicals have not received sufficient attention to reduce their impact on invertebrates and wider wildlife.

Many of our most threatened insects are only found in a small number of places.  These places are often remnants of once widespread wildlife-rich habitats such as flower-rich grassland, ancient woodlands, dunes, heathlands, and wetlands.  Yet agricultural intensification, and the pressure for new development, means that we are continuing to lose these irreplaceable wildlife refuges at an alarming rate.

The current suite of protected areas in the UK includes many sites that are important for insects; however, equally important areas receive no protection and continue to be damaged and destroyed by urbanisation, changing agricultural and land management practices, environmental pollution, invasive non-native species, and many other factors.


Included in the recommendations from the SITC is for the Government to develop a National Invertebrate Strategy. Any such strategy must take a comprehensive approach that considers the impacts of all invertebrates and the threats they face. A strategy must be fully resourced and embedded within the species abundance target of the Environment Act to ensure effective monitoring and deliverable actions.

Invertebrates are the foundations of a healthy environment, helping to pollinate crops, recycle and break down nutrients, improve our soils, clean our waterways, help to control pests, and provide food for other species. They are essential to ecosystem function and without healthy populations, it is impossible to halt nature’s decline.

The Government must now respond to the committee report and set out how they will address the declines in insects and invertebrates. Buglife has set out the needs of invertebrates for policymakers in the “Manifesto for Bugs”.

Main Image Credit: Six-spot Burnet Moth © Claire Pumfrey