Estimates indicate that almost 90% of wild flowering plants and 75% of food crops around the world depend on pollination for successful seed and fruit production. Pollinators are vital to our food security, economy, and overall environmental health.
The Plight of the Pollinator
Pollinators include both vertebrate and invertebrate species, and studies show both groups are declining across the globe. Vertebrate species include birds and bats, while invertgrate species include bees, butterflies and moths.
Invertebrate pollinators are also indicators of a healthy environment and ecosystem and their absence or abundance can indicate specific environmental conditions. A United Nations-sponsored report estimates that 40% of invertebrate pollinators such and 16.5% of vertebrate pollinators are threatened with extinction.
What Are the Threats?
In 2009, the Bee Informed Partnership and the US Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service started an annual National Honeybee Survey to track the health and survival rates of honeybee colonies for both commercial and small-scale honeybee beekeepers. Numbers have been steadily declining and preliminary results suggest a 44% loss of bee colonies across the nation.
Threats to pollinator survival are:
Land use change
In 2015, President Obama issued a memorandum calling for the establishment of a National Pollinator Health Strategy to expand federal efforts and help reverse pollinator losses. The strategy established a Pollinator Health Task Force that includes designated representatives from 15 government branches and taking immediate measures to increase and improve pollinator habitats.
How Can Concessioners Help?
While the government and scientists continue to research new ways to protect pollinators from current threats, there are things concessioners can do to help protect pollinator populations:
Reduce pesticide use.
Plant pollinator gardens and cultivate native flowers and shrubs. Get your free Eco-regional Pollinator Planting Guides.
Replace turf with flowerbeds and native flowers.
Start a beekeeping colony.
Invertebrate pollinators are crucial to the overall health and well-being of our global economy and food security. Let’s work together to save the birds and the bees and ensure the survival of our species.