Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
A recent report from the United Nations warns that pollinator species worldwide – the bees, butterflies, birds and bats that pollinate plants – are in danger of extinction. At risk are 40% of the bees and butterflies and 16% of birds and bats.
This decline in pollinators of all kinds is critical to our food supply since 75% of food crops are at least partially dependent on pollination.
“Pollinators are important contributors to world food production and nutritional security,” said Dr. Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca, who co-chaired the study. The health of the pollinators “is directly linked to our own well-being.”
There are many reasons – both man-made and natural – that pollinators are declining: habitat loss due to farming and urban development, pesticide usage, parasites, disease, and global warming.
The increasing trend of agribusinesses to plant giant areas of farmland devoted to single crops is eliminating the grasslands and wildflowers that the pollinators seek. The pollinators need the wildflowers, which, in turn, need the pollinators to reproduce.
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that more than 20,000 species of wild bees help to pollinate plants.
Plus, many species of butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other animals do, as well.
Crops that depend on these pollinators include fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils – many of which provide essential vitamins and minerals to our diets.
Others, such as coffee and cocoa, not only provide welcome indulgences, but needed income to developing nations.
The report, which was the work of researchers from 124 countries, highlighted the interdependence between animals, plants and man. It also noted that a number of steps can be taken to bring back the pollinators.
These steps include:
Planting patches of wild flowers in agricultural areas could attract pollinators to crop fields.
Cutting back on pesticide use in favor of organic farming methods is another way to protect and attract pollinators.
Something as simple as planting flowers in our yards and putting out window boxes of flowers on ledges could make a difference, too.
SurfWriter Girls are reminded of the classic folk song Where have all the flowers gone?
For the sake of the pollinators, the answer is more important than ever now.
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