Dr. Julie Morris, Ph.D., and Dr. Louise Chawla, Ph.D., discuss the work of the People and Pollinators Action Network (PPAN) to establish and regenerate pollinator habitat in communities throughout Colorado and beyond. By planting certain species of flowering plants, we can help restore food sources and habitat for thousands of pollinators, including: bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Whether in our own yard or surrounding a public parking lot, we can plant and maintain these special ecological oases in a time of otherwise dwindling habitat.
Both serving on the Board of Directors of PPAN, Dr. Chawla and Dr. Morris describe the primary causes of collapsing pollinator populations, which include: habitat loss; pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, and other agro-chemical pollution; invasive and non-native species; disease vectors; and climate change. Indeed, scientists who study the impacts of changing seasonal cycles upon species and ecosystems (“Phenologists”) indicate that climate destabilization is leading to increasing “mismatches” between the reproductive rhythms of flowering plants and the pollinators who depend upon them. Such stressors upon pollinator populations become especially severe when combined with habitat loss and chemical toxicity.
However, we can help to heal and reverse these alarming trends by planting and maintaining more and more pollinator habitat. Not only are such strategies and activities smart in terms of bolstering the ecosystem services provided by pollinators (which include pollinating much of the food that we eat), they benefit us directly in other ways as well. By foregoing toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, and increasing the biodiversity of our yards, parks, and public spaces, we also enhance the aesthetic, environmental, and biophysical benefits in our surrounding environs. PPAN provides myriad resources and recommendations, and make it easy for all of us to help out with this all-important effort.
The People and Pollinators Action Network also collaborates with state and regional governments, advocating smart stewardship-oriented policy, and establishing innovative projects such as “Pollinator Highways” – in partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation, PPAN has already established corridors along highways in which the impacts from mowing are reduced in size and frequency, native mixed flower species are planted, buffer zones are established, and toxic chemical spraying is discontinued – not only enhancing the aesthetic and ecological benefits of these corridors, but also reducing budget expenditures for toxic chemicals! Further, PPAN helps to establish Pollinator Safe Communities, working with community leaders to help bring these benefits into neighborhoods and municipalities. Check out PPAN’s “Pollinator Safe Pledge Map,” to find existing projects near you, or to see if you should help start one in your neighborhood (peopleandpollinators.org/map)!
Julie Morris, Ph.D., is an Associate Teaching Professor in Department of Biological Sciences, University of Denver. Her work focuses on biology education and outreach -especially environmental education and strategies to improve engagement and learning effectiveness in large introductory and non-major’s biology courses. She is passionate about preserving biodiversity and is actively involved in several sustainability initiatives on DU’s campus and in the surrounding Denver community. This includes managing DU’s community garden, and advising two undergraduate student organizations -the DU Pollination Association and the DU Botanical Society.
Louise Chawla, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita in the Program in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work focuses on the benefits of access to nature for children, the development of active care for the natural world, and participatory methods for engaging children and youth in design and planning, as a means of civic development and education for sustainability, and to create communities that support the well-being of all ages. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Children and Nature Network, which works to document the benefits of access to nature in spaces of everyday life and promote city greening. She finds common cause in creating green spaces for people and pollinators, and in ensuring that people as well as pollinators are protected from toxic pesticides.
PPAN’s leadership team includes Joyce Kennedy, Executive Director, and Sabina McKay.
Sign the Pollinator Pledge: peopleandpollinators.org/our-solution/psn-pledge
Endorse the bill to create a new CO Pollinator License Plate: https://peopleandpollinators.org/pollinator-plates-petition/