The Impact of Artificial Light on Bugs
BBC Online have highlighted the praise given to Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park in a report by Buglife, a charity devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. This praise comes in a report entitled “A Review of the Impact of Artificial Light on Invertebrates” (available to download as a pdf, 33 pages).
Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, which I helped set up in 2009, is mentioned twice in the report:
Areas with natural or near-natural lighting regimes should be officially conserved. Additional Dark Sky Preserve areas should be identified to complement the Galloway Forest Park Dark Sky Preserve. In these areas existing light pollution should be reduced and strict limits and constraints placed on any new lighting. New lighting in natural cave systems should not be permitted and lighting in show caves should be minimised. (p5, 1.2 Recommendations, point 4)
At present our understanding of the extent to which artificial lighting has an effect on invertebrates and the wider environment is poor. Some invertebrates, such as those with superposition eyes (e.g. hawkmoths) are sensitive to even very low light levels. While reducing artificial light and changing lamp types is often beneficial; it is recommended that places with natural or near-natural light regimes should be conserved and created. Galloway Forest Park in southern Scotland became Europe’s first official Dark Sky Preserve with the International Dark-Sky Association in 2009. It is increasingly important that there is more official protection of areas with natural light regimes. Where possible additional Dark Sky Preserve areas should be identified to complement the Galloway Forest Park Dark Sky Preserve. In these areas existing light pollution should be reduced and strict limits and constraints placed on any new lighting.
Artificial lighting should not be installed in natural cave systems. In existing show caves every effort must be made to minimise the amount of time that lighting is on and lamps with a narrow light range between yellow and red should always be used in all areas where colour perception is not necessary.
Lighting necessity should be considered and it kept to a functional minimum in all areas. However, certain locations are likely to be particularly sensitive and artificial lighting in these areas should be carefully planned, reduced or, ideally, totally removed to avoid negatively affecting invertebrates and the environment.
- Conserve existing areas with natural light regimes and aim to further reduce artificial light levels from the surrounding locations. These areas should be designated as Dark Sky Preserves.
- Create new areas with natural light regimes. Avoid lighting and reduce/eliminate general light levels in and near areas of known conservation value. This would include areas where Red Data Book listed and UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) species with localised distributions are found, Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Areas that are of conservation value and are home to rare invertebrates and other wildlife include urban settings as well as suburban and rural habitats. Steps should be actively taken to reduce light levels in these areas with the aim that these locations could eventually be designated as Dark Sky Preserves. (p26-27, Section 7.6)
The whole report is worth a read, as it gives yet another good argument against excessive and intrusive outdoor lighting.