Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.
Pollinating animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies in a vital interaction that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants – the very plants that
- bring us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts,
- ½ of the world’s oils, fibers and raw materials;
- prevent soil erosion,
- and increase carbon sequestration
This nearly invisible ecosystem service is a precious resource that requires attention and support - - and in disturbing evidence found around the globe, is increasingly in jeopardy.
Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators. Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops. That means that 1 out of every three bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators. If we want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy, and honey bees alone are responsible for between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife.
Pollinator populations are changing. Many pollinator populations are in decline and this decline is attributed most severely to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats. Pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, and changes in climatic patterns are all contributing to shrinking and shifting pollinator populations. In some cases there isn’t enough data to gauge a response, and this is even more worrisome. If everyone – home owners, local governments, national governments, and private industry – made the effort we could change the future for pollinators and secure our own.
How we can help pollinators?
1. PLANT FOR POLLINATORS
- Habitat opportunities abound on every landscape – from window boxes to acres of farms to corporate campuses to utility and roadside corridors – every site can be habitat.
- Utilize plants native to your area (or at the least, non-invasive for your area).
- Know your soil type and select appropriate plant material.
- Plant in clusters to create a "target' for pollinators to find.
- Plant for continuous bloom throughout the growing season from spring to fall.
- Select a site that is removed from wind, has at least partial sun, and can provide water.
- Allow material from dead branches and logs remain as nesting sites; reduce mulch to allow patches of bare ground for ground-nesting bees to utilize; consider installing wood nesting blocks for wood-nesting natives.
- Where possible, avoid pest problems in the first place by burying infested plant residues, removing pest habitat, and planting native plants that encourage natural enemies of pests
- Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- SUPPORT LOCAL BEES AND BEEKEEPERS.
- Buying local honey supports the beekeepers in your area
- If you're concerned about the number of chemicals use in agriculture, buy organic.
- If you're concerned about contributions to global carbon emissions, buy local.
CONSERVE ALL OF OUR RESOURCES; USE LESS AND REDUCE YOUR IMPACT.
- Pollinators are dramatically affected by extremes in weather
- Climate change puts pressure on native ranges and overwintering sites.
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