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Posts Tagged ‘pollinators’

green-bus-stop

Photo: The Independent
Holland is welcoming bees to bus-stop roofs with plants that also clean dust from the air.

Here is a cool idea for nourishing our valuable pollinators — as long as you’re not allergic to bee stings.

Sophie Hirsh at Green Matters has the story. “Waiting for the bus is typically pretty uneventful — unless you live in one Dutch city. Utrecht, a city in Holland, the Netherlands, recently gave makeovers to 316 bus stops, outfitting them with ‘green roofs,’ The Independent reports. The roofs are covered with sedum flowers and other plants, which act as an oasis for bees. …

“As explained by BrightVibes, the plants will also help absorb rainwater, capture dust or pollutants from the air, and regulate temperatures. …

“In addition to the green roofs, the bus stops also feature bamboo benches and LED lights, which are much more efficient than fluorescent and incandescent lights. And to keep the maintenance of the green bus stops as eco-friendly as possible, Utrecht’s municipal employees who service the bus stops travel from station to station using electric vehicles.

“If Utrecht citizens find themselves inspired when waiting for their daily bus ride, the city is encouraging residents to install green roofs on their houses. In fact, Utrecht residents can actually apply for a subsidy to cover the costs of planting greenery on their roofs, according to BrightVibes. …

“According to the USDA, bee pollination assists in producing one out of every three bites of food we take in the U.S. Many foods we regularly enjoy would not be possible without bees. According to the NRDC, 42 percent of U.S. bee colonies collapsed in 2015, putting our nation’s food supply in jeopardy.

“But over the past few years, there have been a few other local projects to protect bees around the world. For example, in 2010, a German couple began installing bee hives on buildings around Berlin, with the goal of helping bees, as well as creating awareness for the importance of protecting pollinator insects. …

“If you have a garden at your home, there are plenty of ways to use your outdoor space to help bees and other pollinators. For example, you can plant flowers that will attract bees, such as alyssum, echinacea, geranium, and clover, preferably in bright colors like blue, purple, and yellow, according to Gardeners Supply Company. You can also stop weeding your garden and mowing your lawn. As explained by the New York Bee Sanctuary, dandelions and other weeds are great food sources for bees.”

More here.

Photo: GreenMatters.com
Pollinator gardens on bus-stop roofs offer numerous environmental benefits.

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Photo: REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Insects are facing habitat loss across Europe, so London and other cities are taking action.

This story is for Jean, whose booth on MeadowScaping for Biodiversity I visited today at the high school’s sustainability event. Forward-thinking students at our school want this town of many lawns and too many lawn chemicals to change its pollinator-killing ways.

Charlotte Edmond at the World Economic Forum reports on how the city of London is getting serious about making bees and other important insects welcome.

“At any one time it’s estimated there are 10 quintillion insects alive. … Many of us hold no great affection for creepy crawlies, so it’s easy to overlook the crucial role they play in supporting ecosystems. Sitting at the bottom of the food web, they are also nature’s waste disposers, crucial to decomposition. Without them we would more than likely go hungry, with many crops needing pollinators to thrive.

But habitat loss and widespread use of insecticides and agrichemicals has led to insect numbers plummeting in recent years.

“In London, as with many other cities, you’re more likely to hear the buzz of cars than insects. But the UK’s capital is looking to give bugs a boost by creating an insect highway through the north-west of the city.

“A seven-mile wildflower corridor is being planted in parkland to provide a safe haven for insects. To support a range of bees and other pollinators, a mixture of seeds has been chosen.

“There has been a catastrophic loss of flower-rich grasslands in England since the 1930s, often as a result of intensive farming or redevelopment of green sites. … Recent studies have shown some species of pollinators in Britain have decreased by up to a third in the past two decades. There has also been a dip in the range of insects seen: in contrast to the sharp decline seen in some species, other insects, particularly those that [eat] crops, have become more prevalent.

“Experts are concerned by the impact the falling bug count will have. The UK government is five years into a strategy to curb pollinator loss, and is working with bodies such as Buglife to introduce more spaces to support pollinating insects. The charity is introducing a network of insect pathways throughout Britain, running through towns and countryside to connect existing wildlife areas together.

“Alongside this, it is working to create ‘urban hotspots’ for insects, transforming mown and unused areas of land by introducing shrubs, flowers and so-called bee hotels.

“Elsewhere, Norway has built a ‘bee highway’ through its capital, Oslo. And Berlin is one of a number of cities around the world to have introduced urban hives in a bid to support bee populations.

“Honey bees, bumblebees, wild bees and other pollinators are estimated to bring at least $25 billion to the European agriculture industry, ensuring pollination for most crops and wild plants.”

For more on London’s biodiversity efforts, go to the World Economic Forum site, here, where you can also find related stories.

Student-run fair to encourage town residents to use sustainable practices in their yards.

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Photo: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Jean Devine (left) and Jayden Pineda, 7, make a meadow at the Waltham Y.

I’m excited that today the Boston Globe caught up with my friend Jean’s terrific biodiversity-education outreach. Readers may recall that I blogged here and here about how she and Barbara Passero got started on “meadowscaping” — hoping to ween homeowners from using pesticides and herbicides that harm the environment and contribute to global warming.

Debora Almeida reports on the educators’ latest work with kids: “Swimming, crafting, and playing games are staples of day camp, but kids at the Waltham YMCA are doing something new this summer.

“They’re learning how to plant and cultivate a meadow — and why they should.

“ ‘We just want to save the world, that’s all,’ said Barbara Passero, cofounder of Meadowscaping for Biodiversity, an outdoor environmental education program for students of all ages, which has partnered with the Y for the project.

“Over the course of the summer, Passero and program leader Jean Devine are teaching children the fundamentals of meadow upkeep and the importance of planting exclusively native plants. They are the best hosts for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and moths. In turn, the insects attract other wildlife such as birds and rabbits, building biodiversity.

“While some people’s first instinct would be to spray pesticides to protect their hard work from leaf-munching insects, Passero knows that birds will take care of the insects on their own. She also refuses to use any toxic substances around the children, who truly get their hands dirty digging in the meadow. Seth Lucas, program administrator at the Waltham Y, said kids love the activity. …

“The meadow started as a patch of weedy grass, but is in the process of becoming a 10-by-60-foot flourishing garden. Passero and Devine are setting the meadow up for success with native plants that come back year after year. The plants are self-sustaining and spread on their own.”

Such a happy story! Do read the whole thing here.

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