By Holly Giles
The German Government has issued a statement, after urging from a Green MP to ban the products, that leaf blowers should only be used when completely necessary explaining that they can be ‘fatal to insects in the foliage. There is a risk that small animals are absorbed or blown and thereby damaged” explained the German environment ministry. This came after a report into the German insect population, termed by many as the ‘Insect Armageddon’, that highlighted a 75% decline in flying insects across the country. This was seconded by a UK ecologist who predicted that insects are going extinct at a rate eight times faster than larger animals, of which we are far more conscious and aware.
Germany’s response to these reports was a shift in attitude where they are moving away from leaf blowers to a more ‘natural’ look across cities; environmental scientist, Dr Turner, explained this further through saying “I think that leaf blowers fall into the category of being ‘too tidy’ and this can be very bad for insects. Generally if we were to cut our road verges and open grass areas less frequently, let some weeds grow along our pavements, and leave leaves to decompose more, I think it would benefit insects a lot. We should limit our use of herbicides and insecticides to an absolute minimum… Basically, I think we just need to be a little less tidy and a little more tolerant of weeds and I think insects and therefore lots of other species would benefit.”
It is good to see that Germany are not only making these claims of importance but also providing financial backing to them; in September the German government announced an £85m project to protect insects, limit pesticide use and boost environmental regulation across the country. A key part of this action plan is the banning of the weed killer glyphosate by 2023.
It is important to appreciate that this issue is not only prevalent in Germany but across the world. This was confirmed by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s, Professor Dave Goulson, in his statement; “If insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing”. Germany clearly recognising the significance of these findings and has taken action to prevent them.
This scheme from Germany has to be commended and it can only be hoped that other countries will soon follow suit in a bid to save their flying friends.