The EU Horizon 2020 Safeguard project, which involves experts from the ELKH Centre for Ecological Research (CER) and the Regional Centre for Information and Development of Knowledge Ltd (RCISD), addresses the decline of wild pollinators and its effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The project, which is now underway, will receive €7.5 million in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to improve our understanding of the status of and changes to Europe’s wild pollinators, including bees, butterflies, flies and other pollinating insects. The consortium brings together researchers, NGOs, industry and policy experts from 25 institutions in 14 European countries and China.

Wild pollinators are a key component of Europe’s biodiversity, contributing to human well-being in many ways and playing a key role in the functioning of natural ecosystems. They face a number of threats worldwide and in Hungary, including climate change, land use and habitat change. However, the actual extent of the decline and its causal links are still unclear, as is how best to reverse the process.

Reducing multiple pressures on wild pollinators

Under the project, experts will carry out field research to systematically analyse the many factors that threaten wild pollinators and evaluate the effectiveness of different interventions. One of Safeguard’s aims is for participants to develop a range of new methods to support pollinators in stages from the agricultural field to the landscape level – and in agricultural, natural and urban ecosystems.

Mobilising for concerted action

Safeguard will work with key stakeholders to develop an integrated assessment framework, including decision-making protocols, so that its research expertise can better support global, European and national policy makers in their decision-making. The project aims to enhance knowledge of wild pollinators and raise awareness of their value to society, in particular to the general public, industry, business and decision-makers, in order to reverse the decline of wild pollinators through a wide range of coordinated actions across Europe.

“This interdisciplinary project will make a significant contribution to the conservation of wild pollinators in Europe and will strengthen the conservation of domestic pollinators and the international recognition of Hungarian researchers,” said András Báldi, scientific advisor to ÖK and one of the Hungarian participants in the project.