Summer is here in Australia tomorrow, but I think it will be asleep for a while in Melbourne considering the Spring we had. Summer usually means warm balmy days with the smell of blossoms and cut grass, the twittering of birds and the buzzing of bees. However, over the years we seem to see less of our friends the bees and some native birds. It is sad to think that the things we associate with summer are in decline and may be no more, but there is a more serious consequence to this. Birds and bees, along with butterflies and other animals are pollinators.
Without these animals, many of our crops will not grow, as they are part of the reproductive cycle of many plants. It has been estimated that these pollinators contribute to the global economy by $250 billion.
Why are the pollinators in decline?
Habitat loss – many pollinators are losing their homes due to crop production and farming. Native vegetation is being cleared to make way for farming practices.
Climate change – certain species can only live in certain conditions. With the changes in weather events and rises in temperature, pollinators tend to move from the location, and even if they don’t, the change in climate can affect their reproductive cycles.
Herbicide and pesticide use – many herbicides and pesticides are made of toxic chemicals that not only kill the weeds and the annoying insects that destroy crops, but also useful insects like butterflies and bees.
Change in plantation –Most animals accidentally pollenate plants, because the specific plants are a food source to the animals or insects. However, many people are growing plants that don’t require pollinators. Changing the type of plants, changes the way the pollinators live or where they live.
Invasive species – When the habitat changes, it encourages other types of insects to develop in the area. Many can become invasive, taking over the region, as well as becoming a predator to many pollinators. Also, they bring with them many new diseases to the area.
Without pollinators, what would happen?
The spread of pollen would not occur, decreasing the chance of reproduction occurring in many plants.
Crops such as vegetables, fruits and nuts would reduce.
Diversity would be limited.
Food would become more costly.
It would result in poor health in certain populations, as highly nutrient food would be harder to obtain and would become costly.
With poor nutrition, comes a higher risk of infectious diseases and birth defects to the human and animal kingdom.
The poorer countries/regions/population will be the areas most affected.
You may have thought that losing some bees or a species of animal(s) won’t really affect you. You may think it would be sad to lose them, but in the long run it won’t affect how you live…
...are you having second thoughts now? So head out to the garden and grow some plants - flowering, native, vegetables and fruit. Anything to keep pollinators busy.
Have some fun in the garden encouraging pollinators,
Attracta & the earthly passion team