Begun in 2008 in response to honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, the Pollinator Pathway provides a plan for helping pollinators by working to connect patches of public and privately owned land with corridors of much needed habitat. Fragmented and underutilized landscapes weaken ecosystems and increase stresses on native pollinators and the plant life they depend on, and the project seeks to respond to this by strengthening connections between isolated ecosystems in urban, rural and wild environments. While much concern has been focused on commercial honeybee colonies, this project aims for a complete and long term solution by emphasizing support for native pollinator species and their favorite plants, which will ultimately help support our food systems and the honeybee. With 1/3 of our food supply and at least 80% of the world’s plants dependent on pollinators, their health is very important to us all.
The honeybee is a non-native domesticated species that was brought to the U.S. at the time of European colonization. Originally valued for honey and wax, honeybees were soon being used for pollination services on large scale crops (to give a sense of scale, 80% of the world’s almond supply comes from California, and that single bloom event uses 1.3 million commercial honeybee hives). Colony Collapse Disorder is a disease without a readily available solution that has destroyed 40 to 50 percent of commercial beehives in the U.S. since 2005. Their loss puts additional emphasis on the importance of native pollinators, who not only could assist in pollinating crops, but whose own recently accelerating declines in population and habitat are very real causes for alarm that require immediate action. Serious efforts to solve CCD and assist native pollinators are needed.
So what are we doing about it? The first Pollinator Pathway is being built within an urban environment in Seattle. More information on that project can be found HERE. Although this first project is situated in a city, the program can be customized to rebuild and reconnect isolated urban, rural and agricultural ecosystems. It can be small, medium or large scale, connecting a few parcels or a few hundred miles of roads. It can be a component of a storm water retaining bioswales, or a fantastic project to help start or continue a discussion about ecology in your area.
Wherever we build, we focus on the following;
- Replace, don’t displace. This is not necessarily about tearing up existing landscape. It is about fitting into existing spaces in ways that improve functionality.
- Use native plants and native pollinators wherever possible, as native plants are best suited to native pollinators. We strive for a minimum of 80% native plant use.
- This is not a return-to-nature project. This is a plan to create a framework for building landscape that supports pollinators in a way that is sensitive to the natural characteristics of each place, including the human element. Thoughtfully designed human space combined with connected wild landscapes is key to supporting long term solutions for humanity and nature.
- Connect isolated green spaces; select two unconnected green spaces and get a plan in action to connect them with a Pollinator Pathway.
- Get all the paperwork done right. This includes any permitting your city or county might need, garden plans and no-pesticide maintenance plans.
If you or your group is interested in building a Pollinator Pathway, please email us at: email@example.com.
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