Why does pollination matter to us?
Reduction in the diversity/abundance of pollinators and/or pollinator loss can reduce crop yield. The annual value of pollinators for human food crops has been estimated at €153 billion world-wide, £603 million in the UK and €53 million in Ireland. Regional estimates of the value of pollinators to individual crops have also been made, with values of up to $41million for blueberry pollination in Oregon (USA), £36.7 million for apples in the UK and €3.9 million for oilseed rape in Ireland. The cost of replacing pollination services provided by animals by artificial means (e.g. human hand pollination or pollen dusting) can be substantially higher. Furthermore, animal-pollination can improve shelf-life of soft fruits, further increasing their value. Wild pollinators can act as insurance against decline in managed pollinators, driven by pest/disease outbreaks. Pollination also improves the nutritional value of some crops and animal-pollinated crops are crucial for providing vitamins, anti-oxidants and other essential nutrients to the human diet. Pollination also has a non-market value as pollinators contribute directly and indirectly to human well-being in other ways. For example, people derive pleasure from bees and pollinator-dependent habitats such as flower-rich meadows. The value of this is harder to determine, but is demonstrated by public support for organisations such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Limerick’s Buzzing.