To exchange knowledge between researchers working on pollinating insects across the NERC remit, and stakeholders interested in conserving pollinators

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Zoology


The value of insect pollination of agricultural crops in the UK is estimated at £440 million, with over half of the pollination service thought to come from wild pollinators rather than managed honey bees . In response to evidence of pollinator declines in Europe , pollinator conservation strategies have been developed in the private, public and third sectors. We have identified over 50 different interventions that could help conserve pollinators, from restricting certain pesticides to protecting grassland. The science needed to decide which are the most beneficial, or cost-effective, is rapidly developing, particularly within projects funded through the Insect Pollinators Initiative (IPI). Groups investing in pollinator conservation, including some high profile food retailers, are very keen to base their efforts on the best available evidence. This KE Fellow will develop strong long-term links between researchers and end-users, at a time when new knowledge is emerging and rapid action is critical.
Description This knowledge exchange project is about making the best use of scientific knowledge for conservation of wild insect pollinators. We have set up a Pollinator Conservation Delivery Group, which brings together scientists working on insect pollinators with a whole range of organisations actively involved in pollinator conservation. The group has over 40 member organisations, including businesses such as Waitrose, Neal's Yard and the Cooperative, campaigning charities such as Buglife and Friends of the Earth and government bodies such as Natural England.

The Pollinator Conservation Delivery group met twice. At the first meeting in May 2012, members identified what we still need to know to conserve wild insect pollinators. Basic pollinator ecology, economic benefits of crop pollination and impacts of pesticides emerged strongly as priorities. At the second meeting in September 2012, the Group developed 12 specific projects to start addressing these priority knowledge needs.

The projects are all collaborative. Insect pollinator scientists are working directly with businesses, NGOs and government to design, fund and implement new pieces of work. One example is the development of an evidence-based package of agri-environment scheme options to support beneficial insects (pollinators and natural enemies). This is the subject of a current project under a different grant (NE/KO15419/1).
Exploitation Route The priority knowledge needs and projects identified by the Pollinator Conservation Delivery Group are useful to researchers and policy makers as a clear identification of knowledge gaps.
The Pollinator Conservation Delivery Group itself was a source of useful contacts for the scientists and end users who took part. It sparked a number of ongoing partnerships and collaborations.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

Description The Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package in the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme for England (which opened in 2015) emerged as an idea from a meeting of the Pollinator Conservation Delivery Group convened as part of this KE Fellowship, and was developed by a partnership involving Natural England, Defra, the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds, Bristol and Reading. This policy is innovative and ground-breaking. Its strong link to ecological research has already generated interest from the Agricultural European Innovation Partnership EIP-AGRI ( The activities of this Fellowship increased recognition of the value of Knowledge Exchange Fellows by Government (Defra), as demonstrated by appointment to the Pollinators Advisory Steering Group, and the inclusion of knowledge exchange as a key policy action in the National Pollinators Strategy. One partnership developed during this Fellowship, with Primafruit Ltd, has led to the inception of a new 3-year Newton Funded project on the sustainability of intensive fruit production in Brazil, in which Brazilian, Chilean and UK researchers are working directly with producers and the international supply chain to explore how biodiversity and ecosystem services can be enhanced.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Citation in National Pollinator Strategy
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Garden management and agri-environment schemes were highlighted as priority actions in the National Pollinator Strategy for England with support from evidence compiled in this publication.
Description Citation in National Pollinator Strategy
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The supporting document to the National Pollinator Strategy contains the following text: "Habitat requirements to support pollinator populations in urban areas have been identified as a key knowledge gap (Dicks et al., 2012)." The Strategy has two key policy actions to enhance knowledge exchange on managing actions in urban areas - Policy Actions 14 (a policy and practice note) and 16 (workshops on managing urban pollinators).
Description Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators (11 countries)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact At the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD CoP13) in Cancun, Mexico, December 2017, 13 countries signed a declaration called a "Coalition of the Willing", indicating their willingness to take action nationally and internationally on pollinators. The signatories are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Peru, Slovenia, Spain, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Uruguay. Two of these countries already have national pollinator strategies (UK, France), through which many actions are being promoted and encouraged that improve conditions for wild and managed pollinators in farmed and urban areas. The other 11 countries are interested and/or actively developing national pollinator strategies and this declaration will help them learn from each other, and help shape the strategies. The text of the document, provided in this website includes a list of "essentials for national pollinator strategies" which very strongly draw on the ten policies for pollinators suggested by Dicks et al. (2016). The paper (Dicks et al 2016) was circulated at CBD CoP15, and was itself developed from the evidence assessed in the IPBES pollinators report (IPBES 2016), which is directly cited by the Coalition of the Willing.
Description Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry: Insects and Insecticides
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to a national consultation/review
Impact This evidence is published in an Environmental Audit Committee report submitted to Defra on 5 April 2013. The report recommends that Defra introduces a national pollinator monitoring programme, revises its Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, introduces a range of sentinel pollinator species in UK pesticide risk assessments and supports a proposal by the EU to ban use of three neonicotinoid pesticides in January 2014. One of these actions (developing a national pollinator monitoring scheme) was taken forward in the National Pollinator Strategy for England launched in November 2014, although the action is a research project to scope and cost and monitoring programme, rather than a commitment to resource one. The most prominent contributions from the grant holder (Lynn Dicks) were to describe the state of existing scientific knowledge on wild pollinator declines, to explain why different groups of wild pollinators experience different risks from pesticides and to speculate on what evidence would be required to generate certainty on the impact of pesticides on wild pollinator populations. My evidence is directly quoted seven times in the main text of the report. The impact of this activity is a greater awareness about the status of wild pollinators in Government.
Description Defra Sustainable Intensification Platform Project 1
Amount £168,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2014 
End 07/2017
Description Sustainable Fruit farming In the CAatinga: managing ecosystem service trade-offs as agriculture intensifies (SUFICA)
Amount £438,102 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R016429/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 04/2022
Description Waitrose Agronomy Group
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Organisation Waitrose Limited 
Department Waitrose Agronomy Group
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 12/2016
Description Sainsbury's workshop on biodiversity 
Organisation Sainsbury's
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution A one-day workshop hosted by Sainsbury's and delivered by the University of Cambridge in May 2014. The workshop involved discussions with a group of Sainsbury's fresh produce growers and suppliers about their experiences of managing for wildlife, habitats and ecosystems on their farms. They shared details of their efforts so far including progress, successes, advantages and best practice, as well as disadvantages and challenges. They also identified ways in which Sainsbury's could better support them in managing for biodiversity. The outcome of these discussions is intended to inform a reformulation of Sainsbury's Biodiversity Strategy. It captures the views of the growers and suppliers who will be responsible for delivering the strategy on the ground; incorporating their thoughts and suggestions into the Strategy should ensure its effective delivery.
Collaborator Contribution Sainsbury's fresh produce team provided the venue, the catering and invited all the delegates to the workshop.
Impact Sainsbury's are in the process of developing a new biodiversity strategy, informed by the outcomes from the workshop.
Start Year 2014
Description Buglife B-Lines workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A workshop organised by Buglife about the B-lines project, York, 31 October 2011. Lynn Dicks presented the planned knowledge exchange work. This resulted in Conservation Grade and the Stockbridge Technology Centre joining the Pollinator Conservation Delivery Group funded by the grant.

The involvement of Conservation Grade in my Pollinator Conservation Delivery Group was an important element in developing the ideas behind new research partnerships arising from the knowledge exchange work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
Description LWEC Policy and Practice Note no. 9: What is causing the decline in pollinating insects? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Policy and Practice Note has been distributed to over 600 policy makers and practitioners, included in at least three electronic newsletters and published on two websites. Waitrose offered to put it on their Sustainable Agricultural Portal, although it is not there yet.

I am not aware of any specific impacts yet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Pollinator Conservation Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The grant holder, Lynn Dicks, has started a regular blog on the Valuing Nature Network website ( She posts articles about current issues in pollinator conservation. Individual blog posts have so far been read by between 1000 and almost 7000 people.

The blog has been directly quoted in the Farmer's Guardian ( Links to it have been posted on other websites including the Insect Pollinators Initiative website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014