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West Ham MP Lyn Brown says we must all play our part to protect bees

PUBLISHED: 09:29 03 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:29 03 August 2016

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I grew up in a fifth floor flat in Silvertown. We didn’t have any outside space, which is why I value my little garden in Plaistow so much. I have tried to make it a haven for wildlife, though the hedgehogs still ignore the specially purchased hedgehog house.

I have, however, an impressive population of birds: gold finches, collared doves, robins, blackbirds, starlings and greater spotted woodpeckers. I love watching as the small ones grow into adulthood.

Not everybody in Newham is as lucky as me, I know. They don’t have their own green spaces. That’s why parks and community gardens around the borough are so important.

The Forest Gate Community Garden opened a few weeks ago and I attended. Set up as an oasis of calm in the middle of Forest Gate, it’s a place where we can all meet and relax, surrounded by nature. It’s hoped that birds, bees, butterflies and beetles will join the wild plants already thriving there.

Talking with constituents, and from the many letters and emails I receive, it’s clear people here care hugely about our wildlife. Recently, my postbag and inbox have been full of people’s concerns about the decline in our bee population, which has worrying implications for our agricultural industry.

Bees pollinate our country’s important food crops. Common pesticides, called neonicotinoids, are toxic to the bee populations that play a key role in producing much of the food we eat. A decline in bee numbers raises serious concerns about the impact not just on our wildlife, but on our food security.

European nature rules provided our bees with vital protection, yet this government opposed the banning of bee-killing chemicals and temporarily lifted the ban in 2015. Brexit means the end of protection. Possible legalisation of these pesticides threatens our bees’ habitats and their ability to pollinate our crops.

The science is overwhelming and we must do our part, here in Newham, not just by pressuring the government to do more, but by creating and maintaining our own wildlife-friendly spaces, to help safeguard and make accessible the benefits of the natural world. More from Lyn


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