Pollinators, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats and other insects are declining rapidly due to a number of factors, including loss of habitat, loss of forage, and pesticides. Some pollinators such as bumblebees and Monarch butterflies may be on the verge of extinction. Many states have enacted or are considering legislation to acquire, restore and/or protect pollinator habitat, as well as to restrict the application of pesticides such as neonicotinoids and other chemicals that are harmful to pollinators. Innovative funding mechanisms like pollinator license plates and community initiatives have also been introduced in recent years.
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Pollinators are essential to at least one-third of the crops grown for human consumption, yet almost 44% of bees died in the period between April 2019 and April 2020.
Pollinators are responsible for between $235 and $577 billion in crops produced worldwide.
Pollinators assist over 80% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce.
Pollinators and Environmental Justice
The destruction of pollinator habitats and the use of pesticides also endanger the health and wellbeing of human communities, especially those disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices.
The same pesticides toxic to pollinator species also pose serious health risks to humans through production of chemicals used in pesticides, treatment of fields with pesticides, and low access to pesticide-free food products. BIPOC and low-income communities face disproportionately high exposure throughout the lifecycle of pesticides.
Parks and Greenspaces
By expanding publicly accessible pesticide-free greenspaces in “nature-deprived” communities – most commonly found in neighborhoods with high proportions of people of color and low-income households – states can simultaneously support healthy pollinator habitats, equitable outdoor access, and appreciation for pollinators.
Worsening Food Inequity
The global decline in pollinator species is making access to fresh produce more scarce. Without adequate conservation efforts, pollinator decline is likely to increase malnutrition and disease most severely impacting low-income communities, people of color, and Tribal nations.