Pesticides from salad crops polluting Southern Damselfly chalk streams
The Guardian has reported that a watercress plant run by Bakkavor is due to close at the end of this month after environmentalists from the Salmon & Trout Conservation Trust discovered it was polluting the Upper Itchen with neonicotinoid pesticides. The Itchen is a rare and protected chalk stream that is home to a wealth of biodiversity, including the endangered Southern Damselfly. The Itchen’s small and scattered Southern Damselfly populations are facing ever mounting pressures as the land around them becomes increasingly urbanised, from over abstraction to air pollution resulting from traffic fumes. With their populations in such a fragile state, insectide pollution in their breeding rivers could have devastating consequences.
The Environment Agency has now launched an investigation into 50 other sites with permits to wash produce off into rivers. Sites of interest include companies based along the River Test, the Avon and Bourne Rivulet. At the BDS we will be particularly interested in the results from the Avon as one of our citizen science surveys recently found that the pollution sensitive Common Clubtail has gone extinct along this chalk stream.
Image by Scot Nelson