Toronto to protect pollinators such as bees

The City of Toronto has adopted a Pollinator Protection Strategy with the goal of protecting the more than 360 species of bees and more than 100 species of butterflies and other pollinators in Toronto.

“I know many Toronto residents are concerned about the decline in some species of bees and butterflies,” said Mayor John Tory. “With this Pollinator Protection Strategy, we are taking an important step forward to ensure that the City, together with the community, continue to actively support the health and survival of Toronto’s native pollinators.”

“Pollinators are key to a sustainable city and important contributors to urban biodiversity,” said Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 Beaches-East York), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee. “Unfortunately, some species are in decline, and without healthy populations of bees and other pollinators, much of the food we enjoy would not exist.”

Developed in conjunction with expert stakeholders and residents, the strategy brings together City initiatives that are already underway to protect pollinators into a single, comprehensive approach, and creates new opportunities and partnerships. It identifies 30 actions that can be taken by the City and the community to support pollinators, and sets six key priorities: creating habitat, connecting green spaces, building partnerships, incentivizing action, education and recognizing achievements.

The strategy’s main focus is supporting and sustaining native pollinators such as native bees, recognizing that they are ecologically important and more threatened than non-native, managed honey bees. Once native bees are lost, they cannot be replaced.

Habitat creation is key to supporting Toronto’s pollinators and is the strategy’s foundation. Actions the community can take to create habitat include planting pesticide-free, native, pollinator-friendly flowers, trees and shrubs. Resources to assist residents are available at http://livegreentoronto.ca.

City Council has also selected an Official Bee for Toronto – the metallic green sweat bee (Agapostemon virescens) – a solitary, ground-nesting bee that will emerge from gardens across the city this month. With the goal of raising awareness about Toronto’s diverse native bees, the green sweat bee was selected because it is common, easy to recognize, and because, unlike other bees, it welcomes other bees and shares communal nests in the ground.

In April, Toronto declared itself to be a Monarch-friendly city by participating in the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. In 2016, Toronto became the first Bee City in Canada, showing its leadership in pollinator stewardship.

Toronto’s Pollinator Protection Strategy will form part of the City’s broader Biodiversity Strategy. More information about the Pollinator Protection Strategy is available at https://bit.ly/2FSZUDc.

— Valerie Cassells

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