Climate Action

German state to transform ‘save the bees’ petition into law

The southern German state, Bavaria, announced on Wednesday that it will pass into law the popular ‘save the bees’ petition that promises drastic changes in farming practices, bypassing a referendum.

  • 05 April 2019
  • Camilla Watkiss

The southern German state, Bavaria, announced on Wednesday that it will pass into law the popular ‘save the bees’ petition that promises drastic changes in farming practices, bypassing a referendum.

Scientists have warned that nearly half of all insect species are in rapid decline, with a third of the crucial pollinators threatened with extinction. Bees are crucial for the pollination of plants and fertilisation collecting around 20kg of pollen a year, the world’s food crops depend on them. Intense farming, pesticides, the growth of urban landscapes and climate change are all threatening bee’s existence.

The Bavaria petition began in February, campaigning for the preservation of species diversity. It has been extremely successful, securing signatures from 10% (1.7m) of eligible voters in the state. The campaign was backed by the Bavarian Ecological Democratic Party, the Greens and conservation groups.

Campaigners have proposed a target for 20% of agricultural land to meet organic farming standards (‘bee-friendly’) by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Some farmers have criticised the campaign, often feeling marginalised in the environmental debate with financial pressures increasing.

President of the Bavarian Farmers’ Association, Walter Heidl, said: “We are already doing a lot, but often this is dismissed.” Farmers will certainly need help with the new proposed law which would see 10% of green spaces in Bavaria turned into flowering meadows with rivers and streams better protected from pesticides and fertilisers.

Bavaria’s state premier, Markus Söder, announced that rather than putting the petition to a referendum it would simply be written into law, passing through parliament.

“We are taking the text of the referendum word for word,” said Söder, leader of the conservative CSU party which governs the state in a coalition majority.

According to Friends of the Earth since 1900, the UK has lost 13 species of bee, and a further 35 are considered under threat of extinction. None are protected by law. Across Europe nearly 1 in 10 wild bee species face extinction.

“Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” concluded a peer-reviewed study by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland in Australia.

Read about what you can do to help the Bee cause here.