Don’t be too buzzy to care about your impact on pollinators.
June 19 to 24 was Pollinator Week, an annual celebration intended to raise awareness for pollinators and how to protect them. Pollinator Week was established by Pollinator Partnership in 2007 to emphasize the connection between climate and pollinators.
While Pollinator Week was last week, it’s a good reminder that we can care about our pollinating pals all throughout the year.
“We really put and rank very highly the positive celebration and awareness of pollinators and why they’re important to us,” said Victoria Wojcik, Director of Pollinator Partnership Canada.
Pollinators are vital to almost every system on Earth, said Wojcik. They are responsible for the reproduction of nearly 80 per cent of flowering plants. According to Wojcik, pollinators provide at least a third of the food we eat.
“We might not always think this because a lot of us live in cities and we’re not as connected to nature, but plants really structure the world. They structure our ecosystems, they structure our climate, they provide us food,” said Wojcik.
The City of Calgary saw a large need for outdoor opportunities for citizens during the pandemic. They created a webpage dedicated to providing information about how people can naturalize their yards and provide an inclusive habitat for pollinators.
In 2019, Calgary was declared the 36th Bee City in Canada and since then have made a commitment to provide habitats that support pollinators.
“As a key biodiversity target, the city aims to restore 20 per cent of our habitat and open space by 2025. We have completed well over 300 habitat restoration projects,” said Barbara Kowalzik, parks program coordinator for the City of Calgary.
Kowalzik said that habitat restoration is a continual process with an ongoing number of projects in parks around the city. It’s important for the city to continue with habitat restoration to combat pollinator population declines.
“Many of our food sources require pollination so they’re really essential for us and in a city, especially in an urban area like Calgary, resources can be exceptionally difficult for pollinators to find,” said Kowalzik.
By providing education to citizens on its website, the City of Calgary encourages residents to allow space for pollinators on their properties to help with providing a healthy, resilient ecosystem for pollinators.
Local garden societies are also providing resources to citizens to help build Calgary’s plant population to support bees, butterflies, flies and all other pollinators in the same way they support our life cycle.
“Promoting gardening excellence in the city is to think about not just the human perspective, but where are the animals coming into the picture,” said Joanna Tschudy, Community Development Coordinator for the Calgary Horticultural Society.
Tschudy went on to explain that to have a successful garden, the individual must also consider who their garden impacts and who will be interacting with it, like pollinators.
How people can help support pollinators.
Wojcik said that she used to ask herself if someone gave her all the money in the world, could she solve the problems that pollinators are facing? She’d quickly tell herself no, because the truth is, not one organization or one person can be successful by themselves.
“The truth is that actually, everyone’s behaviours impact pollinators … What you need to do is have everyone out there understand how important pollinators are and make the changes in their lives that they can make,” said Wojcik.
Wojcik explained 3 impactful steps citizens can take in order to be aware of their impact on pollinators.
The first step Wojcik explained was to plant native plants and flowers wherever you can, even if that means in a pot on your balcony.
The second step is if pesticides are accessible to you in your area, avoid them.
“There really is no reason for a home gardener to use an insecticide or herbicide. If there’s a weed, you can hand pull it, it’s a tiny garden,” said Wojcik.
Wojcik’s third suggestion was to be cautious of your carbon footprint because ultimately, that is the major factor affecting pollinators today.