A CAMPAIGN has been launched to prevent the drastic decline of bees.

The South Downs National Park Trust, the charity for the National Park, is bidding to raise £75,000 to help restore flower-rich habitats that will protect bees and other important pollinators.

The campaign, called Bee Lines, will work with farmers and other landowners to create new wildflower corridors – essentially a “road system” for insects – that will link habitats and encourage pollination.

Through its fundraising, the Trust hopes to create new wildflower corridors across the National Park.

As part of the campaign, people are also being encouraged to support pollinators in their gardens through initiatives such as planting wildflowers and creating a “Bee B&B”, a cheap but perfect home for the insects.

Tom Parry, lead ranger for the South Downs National Park, who is helping with the project, said: “Our bees are in trouble and have been for quite a while, so Bee Lines is our way of fighting back and protecting these vital pollinators.

“When you consider that bees pollinate about one-third of food crops and 90 per cent of wild plants, which in turn provides food for livestock, you can see the scale of the crisis.

“Our ability to feed ourselves is intrinsically linked to bees and other pollinators.

“Chalk grassland with a colourful blanket of wildflowers is the perfect habitat for pollinators and was once very extensive across the South Downs.

“But the past century of human impact has seen this habitat reduced to just four per cent of the total area of the National Park, creating fragmented areas that make it harder for pollinators to move through the landscape.”

The campaign comes after research pointed towards a worrying decline in bees and pollinators across the UK, with one third of Britain’s bee population disappearing over the past decade and a quarter of Europe’s bumblebees threatened with extinction.

More than 97 per cent (an area the size of Wales) of all flower-rich grasslands have been lost in England since the 1930s.

The South Downs has mirrored this national trend and causes include changes in land use, intensification of farming methods, habitat loss and climate change.

One of the first wildflower corridors is due to be planted at East Clayton Farm, near Washington.

Darren Rolfe, who is beekeeper at the farm, said: “This is a fantastic initiative to help address a very real environmental crisis and we’re excited to be doing our bit to help.”