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Costing conservation: an expert appraisal of the pollinator habitat benefits of England’s entry level stewardship

Breeze, T. D., Bailey, A. P., Balcombe, K. G., Potts, S. G.
Biodiversity and conservation 2014 v.23 no.5 pp. 1193-1214
biodiversity, crop production, habitat destruction, habitats, insects, issues and policy, models, pollination, pollinators, surveys, England
Pollination services provided by insects play a key role in English crop production and wider ecology. Despite growing evidence of the negative effects of habitat loss on pollinator populations, limited policy support is available to reverse this pressure. One measure that may provide beneficial habitat to pollinators is England’s entry level stewardship agri-environment scheme. This study uses a novel expert survey to develop weights for a range of models which adjust the balance of Entry Level Stewardship options within the current area of spending. The annual costs of establishing and maintaining these option compositions were estimated at £59.3–£12.4 M above current expenditure. Although this produced substantial reduction in private cost:benefit ratios, the benefits of the scheme to pollinator habitat rose by 7–140 %; significantly increasing the public cost:benefit ratio. This study demonstrates that the scheme has significant untapped potential to provide good quality habitat for pollinators across England, even within existing expenditure. The findings should open debate on the costs and benefits of specific entry level stewardship management options and how these can be enhanced to benefit both participants and biodiversity more equitably.