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CEC participates in international research project to protect wild pollinators

Bumblebee on a red and yellow flower. Photo.
In the Safeguard project, researchers are working together to reverse the loss of wild pollinators in Europe. Photo: Stina Lundkvist

CEC is one of 24 European research institutes and organizations that is participating in the EU-funded Safeguard project, where world-leading researchers and experts are collaborating to reverse the loss of wild pollinators in Europe. The project is unique as it takes an interdisciplinary holistic approach to both the problems and the solutions.

Losses of wild pollinators in Europe continue. To deal with this, a greater understanding of the driving forces behind declines and the methods required to reverse such negative trends - that mainly affects less common species - is needed. The Safeguard project, which started in the autumn of 2021, involves over 60 researchers and experts from 24 organizations and research institutes from different parts of Europe. The aim of the project is to document the status of wild pollinators in Europe and identify opportunities to reverse negative trends to ensure viable populations. The participating partners holds expertise within biology, ecology, climate and environmental sciences, economics and social sciences.

- It’s really a dream team to take on such a complex task, says Yann Clough from the CEC's research group about the partners in the project funded by Horizon 2020, the EU's framework program for research and innovation.

The project combines empirical studies and modeling, ecological and economic analyses, questions about management and policy, and more. This, according to Henrik Smith from the CEC's research group, means that the project has unique opportunities to find good solutions that can ensure the long-term viable presence of wild pollinators.

Gathered knowledge will provide support to decision-makers

CEC's role in the project is to synthesize and make knowledge, methods and tools available to help decision makers when they need to take a stand on issues that affect pollinating insects.

- There is a growing awareness that our decisions affect nature and its functions, such as pollination of crops and wild plants, at the same time as the knowledge of ecological connections is constantly increasing both in quantity and complexity. Our goal is to deliver and test a framework of support for pollinator-friendly actions that is easy to use for non-specialists, while building on this basis of knowledge, says Yann Clough about CEC's participation in the project.

Henrik Smith believes that the project provides opportunities for CEC to both work with some of Europe's leading research groups as well as to strengthen CEC as an interdisciplinary actor.

- Through Safeguard, CEC will strengthen its ability to make integrated environmental assessments that can be used by decision makers at various levels. Safeguard focuses on pollinators, but the methods we develop can be applied to a number of similar areas.

Since a lot of work has already been done to synthesize knowledge about climate and environmental issues at CEC, the project is a natural, but big step, says Yann Clough.

- It’s a good opportunity to develop our expertise and train young researchers in working close to recipients and to continue to be at the forefront of science.

The project will run from 2022 to 2025. Participants from Lund University are Henrik Smith, Yann Clough, Ciara Dwyer and Pernilla Borgström at CEC and Ola Olsson at Biodiversity. More collaborators will be included as the project develops.

Henrik Smith

Portrait of Henrik Smith. Photo.

Henrik Smith is a professor at Centre for Environment and Climate Science (CEC).

Email: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Telephone: +46 46 222 93 79

Yann Clough

Yann Clough. Photo.

Yann Clough is a professor at Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC).

Email: yann [dot] clough [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se

Telephone: +46 46 222 68 31