November 6, 2015
Source: Elizabeth Whiting Pierce, Intern, Emory Office of Sustainability Initiatives

Protecting Pollinators at Emory by Preserving and Enhancing Habitats

In August 2014, Emory University became the first University in the nation to ban neonicotinoid pesticides and plants pre-treated with these pesticides, as part of a comprehensive pollinator protection program to address the global decline in bee and pollinator populations. Pollinators like bees are critical to the security of our food systems and linked to two out of every three bites of food we eat. As part of its commitment to pollinator protection, Emory is planting more pollinator-friendly habitats in campus green spaces to provide pollinators with local areas in which they can thrive.

For the past several years, Emory’s Campus Services department has organized volunteer groups of students, alumni, and off-campus nonprofits to remove invasive species and replace them with native species that are attractive to pollinators. Recently, Director of Exterior Services Jimmy Powell and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives led over 30 Emory students in planting native shrubs along a stream running through the meadow in Lullwater Preserve. Sweetspire and Buttonbush were planted where the invasive species Privet had recently been removed. The location provides optimal conditions for plants that flower throughout the year, which will allow bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to find food and habitat. The volunteer day was arranged to provide an opportunity for the Emory community to participate in the U.S. Green Building Council’s nation-wide Green Apple Day of Service. It also helped the university progress toward goals laid out in the Emory University Forest Management Plan, Sustainability Vision, and the Lullwater Comprehensive Management Plan.

Similar planting efforts are increasing around the country. The National Pollinator Garden Network’s registry includes 250,000 sites around the country, which help to realize the “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” This report, released by a White House task force in May 2015, aims to “enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.” Emory will continue to enhance and create habitats for pollinators in order to restore the local and global ecosystems and protect species that are critical to a healthy food system.

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