With all the bad news in the world today, it can all just seem overwhelming and leave us with more questions than answers. For instance, biodiversity loss in Canada is growing at an alarming rate and threatens food supplies, water shortages, and increases the risk of habitat loss.
With news like this, it can be easy to think: How can I tackle these huge problems? Maybe my efforts aren’t worth it?
Considering the enormity of the issues we face, it’s understandable most of feel this way sometimes.
But, there are things anyone can do to make a difference. And, when it comes to fighting biodiversity loss in our country, we need to turn to our hard-working pollinators.
Why? Because in addition to being amazing creatures offering us vast beauty, diversity, resilience, and hope—pollinators can reinvigorate our drive to take action for the environment. They are instrumental for protecting species and natural resources.
Pollinators are Conservation Experts
Pollinators are experts at nature conservation. They know how to find the best resources and make the most of them. By pollinating flowers and other plants, they help to ensure that these plants can continue to produce fruits, vegetables, and nuts. This not only benefits humans, but also other animals and species at risk that depend on these plants for food.
When pollinators, such as bees are present, plants tend to produce more seeds, and these seeds are more likely to be dispersed farther from the parent plant leading to greater biodiversity.
Alter Biodiversity Loss: Support Pollinators at Home
Pollinators can be a good news story in conservation. Actions taken for pollinators at an individual level make a large difference on their own. Take my own urban yard as an example: by planting a few native pollinator plants each year, my yard is now filled with an amazing diversity of my favourite pollinators - wild bees!
Examples of my garden’s bees include:
- green metallic sweat bees
- miner bee
- mason bees
- bumble bees
- cellophane bees
And then there are all the others that have now made my yard home or come for a visit to pollinate, protect my veggie garden, and eat the native berries, like birds, flower flies, butterflies, and spiders.
Examples of Native Pollinator Plants
There are so many different possibilities for plants in our yards that attract and feed our giving pollinators. In my garden, I have a variety of native plants like Canada goldenrod, woolly sunflower, and seablush.
But, that list just a tiny sampling of the plants that we can incorporate into our yards in order to support pollination. And, the plants we choose should be native to our unique geographical location in order to support the local area and protect its biodiversity.
For example, pollinator plants native to eastern Vancouver Island include:
- red columbine
- great camas
- western buttercup
To learn what native plants to grow in your region, view these ecoregional planting guides.
Biodiversity: It Takes a Community
Individual actions can have even more impact if communities work together and if all segments of society work towards pollinator protection. We at Pollinator Partnership (US-based) and Pollinator Partnership Canada, are taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to encourage and help create more habitat and safe spaces for pollinators.
We have programs that work with:
- Farmers (Bee Friendly Farming),
- the solar industry (Solar Consultation for Pollinator Habitat),
- rights-of-way managers (NAPPC working lands TF),
- municipalities and schools (Bee City Canada),
- conservation lands (Monarch Wings Across America),
- and urban communities (Project Swallowtail),
The programs help to empower people, students and industry with the tools they need to help pollinators and biodiversity in one of the best ways possible—by creating safe habitat for pollinators and other organisms to thrive.
Pollinator Efforts in Victoria, BC
The MeadowMakers in Victoria, BC, a collaborative program developed by Satinflower Nurseries and P2C, is one of our newest programs but will no doubt turn into one we continue in Victoria and expand to other regions.
MeadowMakers is a 7-month program that guides people through the process of rewilding their spaces, such as yards and boulevards, with native plants that support pollinators and biodiversity. Members learn about local ecology, Indigenous perspectives on stewardship, pollinators diversity and support, urban biodiversity, and get practical information on site preparation, planting, and maintenance.
Meeting virtually has allowed us to get to know each other as a group and even better, the two in-person field trips where we get to meet up, hear from local land managers that have created habitat (Aimee Pelletier, Parks Canada, Fort Rodd Hill Learning Meadow; Jay Rastogi, Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary). The first field trip was a blast as we all got to geek out on native plants and pollinators, and share a few laughs in person!
Local Farm Collaborations
Farmers are active stewards on much of our land in Canada. We are working to help farmers, such as our friends at Millstone Farm & Organics, protect pollinators.
This is done through a series of crop specific guides that address the value of pollinators to the farm and the practical considerations and actions that farmers can take to be part of the support system for pollinators. The guides address four main ways that farmers can participate in pollinator conservation; through use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), by increasing communication between beekeepers, pesticide applicators, and farmers. By maintaining and creating habitat and safe areas for pollinators, and by careful selection and use of pesticide products when needed.
The guides are developed with farmer, beekeeper, researcher, and industry input and offer solutions that can save time and money, and increase crop productivity.
Local and International Awareness
Another program initiated and run by Pollinator Partnership is International Pollinator Week in June. It’s a week to increase awareness about pollinators and how to help them, and to celebrate pollinators.
People are encouraged to celebrate in any way they like, such as one of the following examples:
- hosting garden tours
- planting for pollinators,
- participate in one of our online workshops,
- take part in a pollinator bioblitz,
- host a pollinator-themed dinner,
- and so much more!
Events can be posted on our Pollinator Week map and we encourage people to download the tool kit and check out the website.
Biodiversity Loss: Protect the Pollinators to Lead the Way
Protecting pollinators is achievable in a single yard or patio, and actions by many add up to large change. By creating habitat for pollinators, you’re not only helping the bees, but also the plants, birds, butterflies, and other animals that need ‘wild’ spaces.
Think about what land you have that could help pollinators and whether you’re a homeowner, part of a community garden, a farmer, a parks manager, own a small business, or are part of a large corporation (or many of these things), you can make a difference in your community.
With Gratitude to Lora Morandin, Research and Conservation Director, Pollinator Partnership and Pollinator Partnership Canada for this article.