World Bee Day 20 May 2021– Story Of The Unsung Saviours Of Our Ecosystem!
Do you Know?
3 out of 4 crops across the world producing fruits, or seeds to be used as human food depend, partially if not completely, on bees and other pollinators. On World Bee Day 20 May 2021, read the story of the unsung saviours of our ecosystem & pledge to try to do our bit to preserve them.
Pollinators – The pillars of our ecosystem
Pollinators allow many plants, including many food crops, to breed. Indeed, the food that we eat, like fruits and vegetables, directly relies on pollinators. A world without pollinators would equal a world deprived of food diversity – no blueberries, coffee, chocolate, cucumbers, etc. They also function as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems.
Beyond food, pollinators also contribute to medicines, biofuels, fibres like cotton and linen, and construction materials. The overwhelming majority of angiosperm species only produce seeds if animal pollinators move pollen from the anthers to the stigmas of their flowers.
Pollination is therefore a keystone process, in both human managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems. it’s a key element for food production & human livelihoods directly linking wild ecosystems with the agricultural production systems.
Bees – The Brand Ambassador of Pollinators
Most of the 25,000 to 30,000 species of bees are effective pollinators, and alongside moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and butterflies, they create up the bulk of pollinating species. But the range of pollinators and pollination systems is striking.
There are vertebrate pollinators also including bats, non-flying mammals – several species of monkey, rodents, lemur, tree squirrels, olingo, and kinkajou and birds – hummingbirds, sunbirds, honeycreepers and a few parrot species.
Current understanding of the pollination process shows that, while specific relationships exist between plants and their pollinators, healthy pollination services are best ensured by an abundance and variety of pollinators.
The diversity of pollinators features a direct and positive impact on crop yields. Bees and other pollinating insects are, in fact, improving the food production of two billion small farmers worldwide, helping to make sure food security for the world’s population. Honey hunting of untamed bee colonies also remains a crucial a part of the livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples in many developing countries.
Our Dependence on survival of Bees
Bees and other pollinators, like butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly facing threat of extinction from human activities.
Pollination is, however, a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems. Nearly 90% of the world’s wild angiosperm species depend, entirely, or partially, on animal pollination, alongside estimated 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of worldwide agricultural land. Not only do pollinators contribute on to food security, but they’re key to conserving biodiversity.
In order to raise awareness about the importance of bees and other pollinators and efforts to maintain their survival, UN has designated World Bee Day on 20 May .
The goal is to strengthen measures aimed toward protecting bees and other pollinators, which might significantly contribute to solving problems associated with the worldwide food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries.
We all depend upon pollinators, therefore its crucial to reverse their decline and halt the loss of biodiversity.
We need to act now
Bees are under threat. Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times above normal thanks to human impacts. Nearly 35% of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and almost 17% of vertebrate pollinators, like bats, face extinction globally.
If this trend continues, nutritious crops, like fruits, nuts and lots of vegetable crops are going to be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn and potatoes, eventually leading to an imbalanced diet.
Intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping, pesticides and better temperatures related to global climate change all pose problems for bee populations and, by extension, the standard of food we grow.
Recognizing the size of the pollination crisis and its links to biodiversity and human livelihoods, the Convention on Biological Diversity has made the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators a priority. In 2000, the International Pollinator Initiative (IPI) was established at the Fifth Conference of Parties as a cross-cutting initiative to market the workable use of pollinators in agriculture and related bionetworks. Its main goals are monitoring pollinators decline, addressing the shortage of taxonomic information on pollinators, assessing the value of pollination and therefore the economic impact of the decline of pollination services and protect pollinator diversity.
Along with coordinating the International Pollinator Initiative (IPI), the FAO also provides technical assistance to countries on issues starting from queen breeding to AI to sustainable solutions for honey production and export marketing.
How can we do more?
- planting a various set of native plants, which flower at different times of the year;
- buying raw honey from local farmers;
- buying products from sustainable agricultural practices;
- avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our gardens;
- protecting wild bee colonies when possible;
- sponsoring a hive;
- making a bee drinking fountain by leaving a water bowl outside;
- helping sustaining forest ecosystems;
- raising awareness around us by forwarding this information within our social circles; The decline of bees affects us all!
As beekeepers, or farmers by:
- reducing, or changing the usage of pesticides;
- diversifying crops the maximum amount as possible, and/or planting attractive crops round the field;
- creating hedgerows.
As governments and decision-makers by:
- strengthening the participation of local communities in decision-making, especially that of indigenous people, who know and respect ecosystems and biodiversity;
- enforcing strategic measures, including monetary incentives to assist change;
- increasing collaboration between national and international organizations, organizations and academic and research networks to watch and evaluate pollination services.
Offbeat hope all its readers will take a pledge on World Bee Day on 20 May to do their bit to preserve the species in order to sustain the ecological balance.
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