The case in favour of ragwort.
Britain’s pollinators are under threat through habitat loss, habitat deterioration, pesticide usage, extremes of weather and disease. If that isn’t enough, we now have unprecedented levels of ragwort pulling by do-gooders duped by some truly dodgy science. Ragwort within dried hay is dangerous to stock, but the stuff growing in pasture is fine. Ragwort and stock have coexisted happily for millennia – animals know not to eat it and there are actually few proven cases of ragwort poisoning in pasture. Nearly all cases relate to contaminated dried hay. Yet ragwort pulling in pastoral areas like the New Forest is taking place on an industrial scale!
Take a look at ragwort flowers and witness the tremendous variety of insects on them – bees, hoverflies, butterflies and much more. Those insects also pollinate our orchards, rape fields, broad beans etc. Over much of Britain, ragwort is one of the most important forage plants for pollinating insects. Lose the plant and you’ll lose those insects, wreck the ecology of the countryside and rob it of one of its most attractive native flowers. The Ragwort Bill does not advocate wholesale eradication; it lays down clear guidelines, but much pulling goes way beyond those guidelines and is totally unnecessary.