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Save the Bees

Great success with the people’s petition to retain biodiversity and natural beauty in Bavaria

The biggest threat to humanity, apart from the climate crisis, is the decline in biodiversity. The People’s Petition to retain the “Biodiversity and Natural Beauty of Bavaria”, better known as the “Save the Bees” campaign, addressed this very issue and in 2019, with our support, became the most successful People’s Petition in Bavaria of all time.

The rate of species extinction we are currently experiencing is the largest mass loss of species since the end of the dinosaur period 65 million years ago. In Germany the biomass of flying insects in protected areas has declined by 75 percent over a period of 30 years – as the Krefeld Study and countless other research projects have shown. Over 50 % of the various bee species are threatened with extinction, and butterflies have declined by over 80 % – in the past 40 years alone. The bird population and that of many other living creatures have also been hugely decimated. The reason for all this extinction is the climate crisis and also industrial agriculture, the use of pesticides and the sealing off of land.

This is why we provided substantial support for this People’s Petition to help prevent further extinction.

The People’s Petition to retain the “Biodiversity and Natural Beauty of Bavaria”, better known as the “Save the Bees” campaign, was launched in 2018. Protect the Planet was one of the first supporting organisations even before the campaign was publicised. A total of 94,700 signatures was collected all over Bavaria in support of the referendum. Finally, in February 2019, eligible voters in Bavaria had two weeks to make their voice heard and sign the referendum. Some 1.74 million residents, or 18.3 % of eligible voter, did just that.

We supported the initiative with financial aid and also provided logistical and strategic help. “Thanks to the support of Protect the Planet, we were able to tackle the biggest extinction of species since the dinosaur age”, said Thomas Prudlo, initiator of the People’s Petition, in thanking Protect the Planet founder Dorothea Sick-Thies for her commitment to the cause at the celebration for the most successful People’s Petition in history.

As well as Protect the Planet, a number of agricultural and environmental organisations were also involved: Gregor Louisoder Umweltstiftung, Landesbund für Vogelschutz, Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL) Bayern, Landesverband bayerischer Imker, Bund Naturschutz Bayern and 184 further organisations.

18.3 % of eligible voters made their voice count in February 2019 by adding their name to the referendum at their local council office, helping to make it the most successful People’s Petition in Bavaria of all time! In June 2019 the legal wording of the People’s Petition with accompanying law and a comprehensive package of measures was accepted by the Bavarian parliament. The much-improved Nature Protection Act came into force in Bavaria in August 2019.

Among the key successes were the appointment of 50 biodiversity advisers and 50 wildlife habitat advisers, the retention of 10 % natural forest area as a functioning network of development-free woodland as well as the Bavarian Traditional Orchard Pact, which is an excellent example of targeted implementation of the substance of a People’s Petition.

This initiative showed that environmental policy can be improved by active, grassroots participation and good networking. In 2019, the organisers of the People’s Petition “Save the Bees!” were awarded the Sustainability Prize in the “NGO” category by Bavarian brewery Neumarkt Lammsbräu and the spokeswoman for the alliance, Agnes Becker, received the German Biodiversity Award from the Heinz Sielmann Foundation in 2022.


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