Nieuws - 7 april 2011

Wageningen insect monitor a victim of cuts

Alterra is stopping its monitoring of all insect species on bushes and trees in the Netherlands with immediate effect, says the news agency ANP today. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation has cancelled the annual subsidy of 65,000 euros.

The Institute has been keeping a record of the insects to be found in the Netherlands since 1946. 'We have built up a vast store of irreplaceable knowledge', says Leen Moraal, coordinator of the insect monitor. 'It is a downright shame that we cannot continue with this.' 
Wageningen UR will continue to monitor a number of 'urgent species', such as the notorious oak processionary caterpillar. 'But we will no longer be able to keep a permanent lookout for new insect species or plagues appearing in the Netherlands', says Moraal. Alterra discovered outbreaks of the damaging oak processionary caterpillar in Brabant in the early 1990s. In Almere at the end of last year, the knowledge centre also found the Asian longhorn beetle, which is very damaging to bushes and deciduous trees.
Alterra relies on around five hundred voluntary insect spotters spread across the country for its monitoring. They will soon be getting a letter saying nothing more will be done with their data. Moraal is still asking the volunteers to carry on sending in their observations just in case Alterra finds an alternative source of funding for the insect monitor.