As you sit down to dinner each night, you likely have a bee to thank for a large chunk of that meal. The USDA says more than one-third of crop production in the country requires a pollinator, including a variety of nuts, berries, and flowering vegetables. Unfortunately, the bee population has been in decline, with the number of honey bee hives in the United States falling from 6 million in the 1940s to about 2.5 million today. To help address this, GreaterGood teamed up with the Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) to provide food for bees and other pollinators in the Southwest. This was all thanks to your generous donations.
Last month, BRN and GreaterGood planted two acres’ worth of flower seeds to help feed native pollinators, which will help promote a sustainable landscape and preserve biodiversity in southern Arizona. The funding for the seeds came from GreaterGood’s Plant Flowers to Save Bees & Other Natural Wildlife Benefit Buy. Donations to this cause have already covered the cost of planting more than 1.2 million square feet of seeds in areas with struggling bee populations. While bees face issues from parasites, pesticides, and illness, projects like these help address one of their biggest issues: poor nutrition caused by lack of habitat and food. BRN is tackling this issue on behalf of bees in the Southwest.
BRN supports conservation and immigration programs and policies that protect lives around the United States and Mexico border. One of their conservation initiatives is their Native Plant Program, which works to promote biodiversity and protect ecosystems in the Sky Islands of southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Through this program, they help restore the area’s native plants, which have specific adaptations perfect for the region, including high nectar quantities.
Francesca Claverie, the program’s manager, says, “The Madrean Sky Island region of southeast Arizona has exceptionally high biological diversity resulting from the overlap of four distinct biological provinces: the Sonoran Desert to the west, Rocky Mountains to the north, Sierra Madre Occidental from the south, and the Chihuahuan Desert to the east. It is a region of isolated, forested mountains surrounded by deserts and grasslands, making it one of the most biologically unique regions on the planet.”
She says the area is facing pressures including the border wall construction, ranching, mining, and climate change, which are leading to invasive weeds, landscape degradation, and increased drought and freeze. BRN is addressing these issues through collaborative restoration projects focused on watershed restoration, native plant and seed work, monitoring, and education. The native plant and seed work is important to the pollinators in the area, which are being impacted by these habitat and climate issues.
Claverie explains, “This unique ecological region is home to many migrating as well as endemic pollinators including thousands of species of bats, bees, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds, wasps, flies, and mammals! Pollinator species specifically rely on nectar from plants and as our landscape degrades and temperatures change, these plants aren’t found in as great abundance, and aren’t available for pollinators, with pollinators going hungry. Native plantings and seedings put appropriate species back on the landscape and in our restoration projects, making pollinator food an integral part of the ecological restoration process.”
The seeds planted at land BRN rents at its Native Plant Nursery and seed increaser field will be important in helping this process along. During the project, Greater Good Charities staff members Brooke Nowak and Steve Minter met up in Tucson with BRN employees, including Claverie, Perin McNelis, Emmett Rahn-Oakes, and BRN Farm and Maintenance Lead Travis Gerckens. The seed was hand broadcast before being raked in by hand. It was then irrigated by with a water tank and nursery truck. The seed should begin germinating throughout the spring, but that is dependent upon rainfall. The area will be watered each month if there is a lack of precipitation.
Claverie is excited to see what this project will do.
She says, “We hope this partnership with GreaterGood will improve habitat on a larger scale in the Madrean Sky Island region benefitting pollinators on both sides of the border. In order to secure long term success of regionally adapted native plants and seeds, we’re interested in growing out seeds for restoration projects which will allow us to collect and plant many times more seeds than is accomplished with wild harvesting. This project is innovative and timely as more and more federal agencies are looking to improve the quality of seed distributed in the landscape during restoration activities, and Borderlands Restoration Network is excited to partner with a caring and mobilizing organization like GreaterGood that can help lead the charge for pollinators and the environment on which they depend.”
Through your pollinator seeds donations, you have helped ensure that bees are fed and are able to continue to help plants reproduce. Birds and butterflies that also rely on these plants for food are helped by your generosity, as well. If you’d like to contribute to efforts like these, click here. To make a donation to BRN, check out their website.Whizzco