“One thing is clear, Americans love pollinators and their efforts are paying off. Research in recent articles, such as the Journal of Applied Ecology, have shown that even small gardens can make a difference for pollinators by increasing diversity of bee species across urban and suburban landscapes,” says Mary Phillips, senior director at the National Wildlife Federation, one of the founders of the network.
By creating, planting and maintaining a garden, and registering it on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge map, Americans can contribute to revitalizing the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across the U.S. “Anyone can plant for pollinators and join this effort to reach one million,” explains Phillips. “Every habitat of every size counts, from window boxes and garden plots to farm borders, golf courses, school gardens and more. Anticipation is growing across the National Pollinator Garden Network’s 50 conservation, garden trade, voluntary civic and federal partners, as we rally to get the remaining gardens to be registered.”
These bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and other pollinators fertilize one-third of food crops while flying from plant to plant. They “play a critical role in food security,” says Val Dolcini, president of the Pollinator Partnership, one of the network’s founding organizations.
In fact, one out of every three bites we eat is the direct result of a pollinator’s work, contributing $29 billion to America’s food production, according to Cornell University. But pollinator declines in recent decades have been steep and severe due to habitat loss, parasites, pesticides and other threats. Monarch populations, for example, have plummeted by 90% in the last 20 years.
To help pollinator numbers increase, the National Pollinator Garden Network launched the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to inspire people and organizations to create more pollinator habitats. The network provides plant lists, hand-outs, lesson plans, training guides and many other resources to help people spread the word, grow beautiful gardens and drive conservation efforts.
To register your garden, visit http://pollinator.org/mpgcmap/.