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Butterfly on head of Yacare caiman.

Julia heleconia (Dryas iulia) butterfly on head of Yacare caiman (Caiman yacare). Butterflies often land on caiman's head to drink the salt from its eyes. Pantanal, Brazil.

Credit: Wim van den Heever via Nature Picture Library

Pollinators

Call to action:

Stop the extinction of pollinators by protecting, restoring, and rewilding current and former habitats.

Pollinators are birds, bats, bees, butterflies, wasps, beetles, and other animals that travel from plant to plant transferring pollen, a process necessary for 88 percent of flowering plants, proper ecosystem functioning, and our food system. Despite their importance, over 40 percent of pollinators species are threatened with extinction. Habitat loss, pesticides, and pollution are among the main drivers of their decline. A multipronged strategy is needed to stop the pollinator crisis, including the adoption of regenerative land-management practices, the restoration of pollinator habitat, the protection and rewilding of native habitats, and education and advocacy campaigns. Whether it is planting native gardens with pollinators in mind, reducing pesticide use, or growing awareness and love for pollinators, there are many ways to get involved.

Action Items

Individuals

Learn why pollinators are crucial for human and ecosystem health and why they are in crisis. Pollinating animals account for nearly 350,000 species globally. They are essential for the health of ecosystems. They pollinate many food crops and support a wide variety of culturally important practices from medicinal plants to dyes. However, many pollinators are facing high extinction rates globally. The crisis is especially acute for insects. One in four species of native bees in North America face extinction, and monarch butterflies have declined by 85 percent in the last twenty years (see Insect Extinctions Nexus).

Support pollinators where you live. Pollinators need food, water, and shelter. There are many ways to support pollinators in your community and beyond. For more ideas see Insect Extinctions Nexus.

Join or support organizations protecting pollinator health. Organizations and programs include:

Use social media to support pollinators. Many organizations have group pages to interact with, campaigns to support, or social media guides to adapt to your own work:

Groups

Urban Planners, Highway, Parks and Recreation Departments

Create space for pollinators. Urban planners and parks and recreation departments can help create pollinator-friendly habitats.

  • This guide from the European Commission includes tips for planners and land-use managers to create favorable urban environments for pollinators.
  • Manage roadsides, verges, and rights-of-way for pollinators along highways and other public roads. Here is a roadside revegetation report from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Hamilton city in New Zealand posts about local bat populations on its website, provides resources on protecting bat habitats, and lends free bat detectors to their community.
  • Amsterdam has replaced grass with native flowering plants, stopped using chemical weed killer in public spaces, and set up bee hotels, leading to a 45 percent increase in solitary bee species recorded.
  • Berlin has set aside €1.5 million to support over fifty gardens across the city.
  • A study in four British cities shows that allotments (community gardens) and residential gardens supported the highest bee and hoverfly abundances.
  • The metropolitan city of Campo Grande, Brazil, has created community programs to promote the appreciation and protection of macaws.

Farmers and Other Landowners

Protect pollinator habitats and build corridors. Landowners and agriculturalists are in a unique position to address habitat loss for pollinators. Implementing a range of regenerative practices not only supports pollinators but also improves soil health and crop yields.

Companies

Ensure a pollinator-friendly supply chain. Companies can support farmers and suppliers that integrate best-management practices for pollinators and land use, source input materials with pollinator-friendly practices, or utilize end products with environmental certifications.

  • KIND Healthy Snacks announced it will exclusively source its almonds from bee-friendly orchards by 2025, working with growers to eliminate certain pesticides and set aside land for pollinator health.
  • The Xerces Society has a farm certification program that improves yields while protecting pollinators.
  • Walmart announced that by 2025, it aims to have 100 percent of its produce and flowers sourced from suppliers utilizing integrated pest-management practices.
  • CVS is one of eleven grocery retailers to address pesticide use in the name of pollinator health and commit to working with partners to audit pesticide use and practices to identify opportunities to address threats to pollinator and human health.

Invest in pollinator auditing and consulting services. Work with organizations and individuals that specialize in developing plans for habitat sites, providing insight on supply changes, or auditing facility sustainability for pollinators.

  • The Xerces Society has a free Habitat Portfolio that provides insights for private sector partners to establish pollinator habitat. They also offer consulting services.
  • Pollinating London Together audits green spaces for “pollinator friendliness” of plants and pesticides, and to monitor activities of pollinators.
  • Several labels exist certifying sustainable and pollinator-friendly practices, including Certified Regenerative, Regenerative Organic Certified, Soil Carbon Initiative, and Bee Better Certified.   
  • Bees for the World works to design sustainable supply chains for organic bee products globally by protecting local environments, investing in communities, and creating income sources.
  • The Smithsonian also offers a Bird Friendly mark of approval for coffee and cocoa products, requiring organic standards that ban harmful agrochemicals, and a diversity of native trees and shrubs to be available to protect bird species.

Governance

Advance legislation that supports the health and recovery of pollinators. Governments must implement policies that preserve and rewild pollinator habitat, protect vulnerable species, and reduce pesticide use. The need to protect pollinators has been integrated into several government policies and targets:

Support education and awareness campaigns. Governments can create national awareness campaigns and funds to promote pollinator-friendly actions.

  • Australian Pollinator Week can be replicated at all scales of governance. Declare a week, or day, for pollinator-related events and workshops—like photo contests, educational workshops, or outdoor outings—while highlighting key organizations in your area.
  • The EU Pollinators Initiative was created to address the decline of wild pollinating insects. As of 2020, over thirty actions have been implemented, including the Pollinator Park, an interactive digital tool that raises awareness about and mobilizes action around pollinators.

Key Players

Individuals

Binita Pandey is the founder and executive president of Nepal Pollinator Network.

Gary Nabhan is an ethnobotanist, author, and aquaculture ecologist.

Roque Arroyo Rodríguez is a Pollinator Advocate for Mexico, developing local stingless beekeeping cooperatives.

Sarah Bergmann is the founder of Pollinator Pathway.

Vicki Wojcik is the director of Pollinator Partnership Canada.

Leydy Pech is an Indigenous Mayan beekeeper and member of the Ladies of Honey.

Scott Black is a conservationist and executive director of Xerces Society.

Gemma Cranston is the director of the Business and Nature team working on safeguarding pollinators.

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