University and sixth form students from across Northern Ireland visited Stormont earlier this week to present the chairperson of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee with a report on the importance of wildlife-friendly farming.
The young RSPB campaigners took the opportunity to brief Paul Frew MLA on their research into the benefits of agri-environment schemes for people, wildlife and the economy.
Speaking after the visit to Stormont, young campaigner Laura Suitor, from Glenlola Collegiate in Bangor, said: “We were really pleased to have the opportunity to travel to Stormont and meet with the Chairperson of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Paul Frew MLA.
“We explained that nature is in trouble and requires the support of politicians if we are to reverse some of the declines witnessed in the past decades.”
Philip Brown from Down High added: “My research on bees and how they are affected by their environmental surroundings has revealed populations are declining partly as a result of habitat loss.
“In 2007 the National Audit Office collated research working out the value of honeybees to the UK economy. The value of bees was estimated at £200m a year but he retail value of what they pollinate was valued closer to £1bn. So we not only have a moral imperative to protect our native species, but an economic reason also.
“We explained to Paul Frew MLA that we believe that agri-environment schemes are the best way to protect our countryside and iconic species into the future. We also recognise that many farmers are doing wonderful things on their land to help biodiversity, and we look forward to government increasing their support for the challenges ahead if we are to create a countryside fit for wildlife.”