Pollinator Pathway Programs

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What is it?

Pollinator Pathway Programs are ecological and social programs designed to connect native pollinators to the resources they need to survive in a developed area by establishing corridors of pollinator-friendly plantings and structures. Pollinators, such as bees, beetles, butterflies, and hummingbirds are needed to pollinate most flowering plants, but are threatened by habitat loss, competition from non-native species, and pesticide use.

By including native plants and pollinator habitat (e.g., bee boxes) in even in small areas such as curbsides and small-lot landscaping, municipalities can get help protect pollinators. Pollinator Pathway Programs often include outreach to educate residents of pollinator benefits.

How can municipalities use it?

Municipalities can use Pollinator Pathway Programs to enhance conditions for pollinators in order to capture the ecological benefits of healthy pollinator populations. Municipalities can include pollinator pathway initiatives in biodiversity strategies, naturalization programs, and ecological restoration programs. Pollinator Pathways can be incorporated into urban design and neighborhood revitalization projects, as well as transportation plans to encourage native plants in vegetated medians. Municipalities can encourage the adoption of pollinator-friendly gardens on private property through education programs, free materials (e.g., native wildflower seeds or bee boxes), and certification programs. These initiatives can often be funded through public-private partnerships.

What are the advantages?

There are many advantages of a Pollinator Pathway program, including:

  • Protects pollinator populations, contributing to benefits such as food production, carbon sequestration, clean water and air, and maintenance of biodiversity

  • Enhances aesthetic of developed areas

  • Uses native plants, which are often drought-tolerant and can conserve water compared to traditional landscaping

  • Public is often supportive of Pollinator Pathway Programs

  • Offers an opportunity to educate residents on benefits of natural infrastructure

  • Initiatives can be adapted to specific sites, and can be inexpensive

  • Offers opportunities for volunteer involvement

What should you watch out for?

No tool is a silver bullet. The following should be considered when implementing Pollinator Pathway programs:

  • Residents may be unenthusiastic when manicured parks are naturalized to include native plants, and are no longer mowed

  • Resources are required to carry out Pollinator Pathway Programs, such as for native plant supplies, labor, education programs, etc.

  • Coordination required to ensure the program properly connects native pollinator habitat

  • Ongoing maintenance and monitoring may be required to ensure success

  • Maintenance requirements may be unfamiliar and contradictory to traditional maintenance practices (e.g., no mowing, no spraying)

How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?

Pollinator Pathway Programs help to maintain the natural infrastructure system through encouraging healthy pollinator populations. Healthy pollinator populations are necessary for food production and ecological health. Further, Pollinator Pathway Programs offer accessible and popular ways for residents to learn about local nature and its importance in developed areas, raising community support for additional initiatives that protect the natural infrastructure system.

Resources

Pollinator PathwayThe Pollinator Pathway concept began in Seattle, Washington, and grew to a global initiative. This website offers information, resources, and a design kit for those interested in starting a pollinator pathway program.


City of Calgary Bee City Application The City of Calgary has implemented several initiatives such as the naturalization program and development of “bee boulevards” to protect native pollinators. This document outlines current and planned initiatives in the City's successful application to be recognized as a “Bee City.”


Bee City Canada – An organization that works to inspire cities, towns, First Nations, schools, businesses and other organizations to take action to protect pollinators.


Pollinators Pathway Project, London, ON - This program focused on the City of London, Ontario, aims to establish London as a pollinator sanctuary by providing support for people wanting to create their own garden. Their goal is to raise awareness of the tole pollinators play in long-term foo security

Did we miss something?

If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!

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