FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 30,2014
Washington DC – In a landmark meeting in the history of insect conservation, the White House today convened diverse stakeholders to address catastrophic declines in pollinators and prioritize their recovery on a continent-wide scale.
Led by White House Science Policy Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, more than fifty farmers, beekeepers, nurserymen, scientists, educators, corporate CEOs and faith-based community leaders met today at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington DC to discuss how to avert further pollinator decline and prevent further threats to our food security in North America.
“This is an issue that President Obama personally cares about: ways of protecting and nourishing natural capital, including ecosystem services. We are happy to see this intersection between people inside government and outside government trying to figure out how we can meet the challenges we face, said Holdren.
“Bees and butterflies have become like the canaries in the coal mine, and that should be a wake up call for all of us,” said Holdren.
During this unprecedented collaboration, participants identified:
1) Activities, policies, or other initiatives for which federal agencies could enact to address pollinator health;
2) Potential public-private partnerships to be formed to address these issues; and
3) Significant commitments that pollinator conservation organizations are already making that the White House could assist with and help raise attention to these urgent issues.
It became clear from comments prepared by the many stakeholders during the ninety minute session that this issue has emerged to be one of the most pressing and pervasive ones affecting our food supply and the health of the natural systems and ecological relationships that provide support services for agriculture.
The voluntary involvement of farmers, beekeepers, nurserymen, seedsmen, garden clubs, wildlife habitat restorationists will, with buy-in from the White House, help design a recovery plan to include both the for-profit and non-profit sector at an unprecedented scale.
Some participants tentatively estimated that more than 100 million acres of American farmland have been depleted of their pollinators over the last decade. While the causes and consequences of the pollinator declines remain different for each species of insect that has become imperiled, there was consensus that habitat restoration of milkweeds for monarchs and other butterflies will also aid honeybees and imperiled bumblebees.
According to Dr. Gary Nabhan of Make Way for Monarchs and the Franciscan Action Network, “We must give private land owners and public lands managers tangible incentives for sowing native plant seeds to restore bee and butterfly’s ability to forage on millions of acres of farms, ranches and roadsides over the next decade.
But seeding appropriate wildflower mixes, including milkweeds, will benefit both bees and monarchs only if we also commit to protecting all pollinators from exposure to toxins, parasites, diseases and habitat destruction,” said Nabhan.
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Information of Photograph:
Two monarch butterflies nectaring on Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Most important of the 73 species of native milkweeds for the monarch butterfly. Photo by Ina Warren.