An Expansive Partnership to Protect Pollinator Habitat
eXPANDING POLLINATOR HABITAT
The Conservation Marketplace Midwest (CMM) believes in providing high quality pollinator habitat and forage resources for both native pollinators and managed honey bees. CMM connects willing landowners with corporations, individuals, and foundations who desire the same landscape goals.
Pollinators at Risk
In many areas pollinators are in decline. The US Fish and Wildlife Service lists over 50 pollinator species as threatened or endangered, and wild honey bee populations have dropped 25 percent since 1990. Continued declines in pollinator activity could mean rising costs for pollinator dependent fruits and vegetables and the disruption of entire ecological systems.
Many reasons are cited for the loss of honey bees and other native pollinators, including pests, disease and pesticides. However, the greatest threats are habitat destruction caused by changes in land use. When people convert wild lands for domestic uses the food and nesting requirements of many pollinators are disrupted.
WHY WE NEED POLLINATORS
Bees and other native pollinators are a vital component of our ecosystem and food supply. It has been estimated that animals pollinate approximately 35% of all crops grown throughout the world. While managed honey bees comprise the lion’s share of pollinator services, native pollinators are significant contributors. For example, in the year 2000, managed honey bees were responsible for an estimated $15 billion worth of crops produced in the US; with native bees accounting for roughly $3 billion. In many cases these crops are entirely dependent on bees and other beneficial insects for pollination. For instance, almonds, sunflowers, apples, and alfalfa seed are completely dependent on pollinators with pumpkins, squash, and raspberries being 80%-90% dependent.
CMM Targets Pollinator Needs
Providing good quality habitat is a straightforward way to attract and increase native bee populations, as well as benefit managed honey bees. In addition to bees and other native pollinators, beneficial insects that control crop pests use the same habitat. A 2006 estimate put the value on natural control of pests by beneficial insects at $4.5 billion annually.
Generally speaking, pollinators, both managed and native, have three needs:
Habitat protection from herbicides and insecticides
The varying functions and needs of native vs. managed honey bees result in different management strategies.
CMM assesses each site individually to determine the best location for the pollinator practice. Each project incorporates a 25 foot or greater buffer to act as a drift-less zone to protect pollinators from herbicides and insecticides.
Additionally, CMM develops a planting plan that includes:
Steps to prepare the site for planting.
Tailored pollinator seed mix that bloom at different times throughout the growing season ensuring a continuous food supply.
Seeding methods and required equipment.
Ongoing maintenance requirements.
CMM is interested in identifying and working with cooperative individuals and businesses to establish new acres and/or enhance existing natural areas to develop high quality pollinator habitat. If you are an interested landowner or business, please contact us for more information about our program and how you can support the establishment of pollinator habitat.
Pollinator Habitat Project with General Mills
Thanks to a General Mills Foundation Grant, CMM is working on a pilot project to increase the number of acres of high quality habitat and forage for pollinators. The project establishes 20 acres of pollinator habitat, on approximately ten, two acre sites across the state.
What sets this project apart from other restoration efforts is the payment for ecological uplift, recognizing the pollinating services provided as a result of the planting. Participants are paid an annual credit payment of $75 for each half acre of habitat or $150/acre for the life of the contract.
The projects target managed honey bees or native pollinators under two scenarios; establishment of new pollinator habitat or an enhancement of an existing perennial site.
Plantings are established on freshly tilled sites following the Pollinator Habitat Credit guidance.
Newly planted buffers along open drainage ditches or in the riparian area support native pollinators. Established following the Pollinator Habitat Credit guidance these buffers can provide multiple benefits to the landowner including sediment reductions, water quality improvement and carbon sequestration.
Existing native plantings are enhanced with additional plant species to meet the criteria in the Pollinator Habitat Credit guidance. Examples of these areas include private lands, CRP, CREP, RIM and expired CRP. Plantings are inter-seeded into the existing planting. The enhancement plantingd are planned to occur during mid-contract maintenance or when likely success is high. Any enhancements on land in a contract or easement must have the permission of the cooperating agency before approval by CMM.
Plantings of alfalfa, clover and forage mixes support managed bees. Management allows harvest only after the bloom period for forage or bioenergy use. This management scheme will not support dairy cattle in milk production, but could be utilized by dairy beef, beef, sheep or horses.