Four factors—the loss and fragmentation of habitat, the degradation of remaining habitat, pesticide poisoning, and the spread of diseases and parasites—account for most of the declines in populations of bees and other pollinators. These factors have complex political, economic, and social origins that are not easily addressed. At the local level, however, the solutions to many of these problems are simple and straightforward. Many insects are fairly resilient, and there are actions we can take in our own backyards and neighborhoods, on farms and ranches, and in city parks and wild areas, to help strengthen and support pollinator populations.
Attracting Native Pollinators
“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.”
A natural woodland is composed of a multilayered tapestry of canopy and understory trees with a ground layer of shrubs and herbaceous plants. Trees of the same species are found at many different ages and irregular clusters, and do not necessarily have straight trunks and uniform heads. In fact, leaning and jagged trunks can often be the most interesting feature in the landscape.
Unfortunately, there is not enough space to create true self-sustaining woodlands on most residential properties. However, if the planting of site-appropriate native woodland species on the perimeters of suburban properties became commponplace, a series of continuous woodland corridors would be created, connecting existing isolated fragments of native forest badly in need of ecological interaction. The positive ecological impact of this would be quite significant, while the aesthetic advantages of suburban landscape in visual harmony with our native American forest would be easily apparent. Additonal privacy would be a bonus.
Ten Elements of Natural Design
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
“What a garden is, by definition, is a a humanly contrived, artificial construct of plants from all over the world that is usually assembled with little regard for ecological or biological principles. At the same time, this assemblage of plants exists in a world whose entire life force, whose every purpose of being, is driven by universal principles of environmental or ecological balance. …a garden might be thought of as a struggle between a piece of land trying to restore itself to a natural balance and a gardener who hasn’t a clue what that means. Thus begins the eternal battle between the gardener, the garden, and the forces of nature.
…If we work with the laws of nature, we have a much better chance of developing a garden that functions as a balanced, naturalistic system should.
Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology
“I firmly believe that if we all decide to make an effort to restore some of the local plants to our landscapes, we will in no small way help make our own piece of the world a richer, more diverse, and, by consequence, a healthier place. This is not politics, it is simple truth.”
“My special cause, the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land-to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood.”
Ladybird Johnson–AARP Convention Speech, 1992
“Somehow along the way we have come to expect perfection in our gardens: the plastic quality of artificial flowers is now seen as normal and healthy. It is neither. Instead, it is a clear sign of a garden so contrived that it is no longer a living community, so unbalanced that any life form other than the desired plants is viewed as an enemy and quickly eliminated. Today’s gardeners are so concerned about the health of their plants that they run for the spray can at the first sign of an insect. Ironically, a sterile garden is one teetering on the brink of destruction. It can no longer function as a dynamic community of interacting organisms, all working smoothly to perpetuate their interactions. Its checks and balances are gone. Instead, the sterile garden’s continued existence depends entirely on the frantic efforts of the gardener alone.”
Douglas Tallamy–Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens