We got the chance to sit down and chat with Pollinator Partnership Canada’s (P2C) director, Victoria Wojcik, and see how P2C is helping pollinators—bees, butterflies and other creatures—to build resilience in the face of growing challenges.
Wojcik started off by detailing how crucial pollinators are to our society: “Every terrestrial system is pollinator dependent, the degree varies, but it’s really high… 85-95%.” This means that 85-95% of plants depend on pollinators to survive, and we humans depend on them too.
Pollinators are mainly considered for their role in food production, but they also play a part in the production of textiles and fibers for clothing, furniture, pharmaceuticals, and other goods.
Despite their importance, the driver of pollinator population decline is habitat loss, which is made worse by pesticide use, pests and disease, invasive species and climate change. Vital ecosystems are being transformed into different land uses, including residential neighbourhoods and commercial centres. Development of agricultural land is twice as bad—taking away from pollinator habitats and adding to the risk of pesticide pressure.
“Every terrestrial system is pollinator dependent, the degree varies, but it’s really high… 85-95%”
Climate change is another factor impacting pollinators, causing lasting negative temperatures and changing precipitation levels. Wojcik described how insects tend to follow cues based on temperature; with climate change, this risks a “dissociation between when plants are normally in bloom, and when their pollinators emerge.” This could result in both species struggling—plants being pollinated late and pollinators missing out on food sources.
Wojcik emphasises that actions to save pollinators are not a lost cause. While climate change will likely cause us to lose some species and declines in some populations, there will also be some that thrive. The key, she said, is the choices we make.
“What helps pollinators is everyone making better choices, different choices that lessen the impacts that are harmful”
P2C’s goal is to help people make these better choices. Their Ecoregional Planting Guides help gardeners by detailing native pollinators found in the area and lists of native plants they prefer. In partnership with Bee City Canada, cities and schools are becoming certified bee-friendly—meaning they’re actively working towards a better pollinator future. Further, P2C runs a Pollinator Stewardship Certification program to help citizens take a more active role in pollinator conservation. The program involves educating participants about pollinator ecology, habitat creation, and public education strategies.
According to Wojcik, everyone can help pollinators in three simple but meaningful ways. These include:
- Planting native species—Even one plant will make a difference. If everyone in the city of Ottawa planted one native species, there would be more than 1.4 million new plants!
- Shopping local and sustainable—This helps decrease your individual food miles and reduces pesticide pressure on pollinators.
- Spreading the word—Inform people about the challenges pollinators face and what everyone can do to help.
Let’s work together and help pollinators thrive!