There are few who have not heard of the crisis facing honeybees. In my garden this last season visits by non-domesticated bees and other pollinators have by far outnumbered visits by honeybees – something which would not have occurred 10 or 15 years ago. But it is not just domesticated bees that are in decline. Wild pollinator populations are also being impacted by disease, pesticides, malnutrition, habitat loss, pollution and climate change. Pollinators are vital for natural ecosystems and domesticated crops and a Canadian network has finally been established to look at the issue of pollinator decline. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has funded a five year project called the Canadian Pollination Initiative (CANPOLIN) to find solutions to the problem.
From the NSERC-CANPOLIN website:
The time is ripe for the NSERC-CANPOLIN Network for numerous reasons:
- A decline in pollinators and deficit in pollination is already documented.
- The problems being faced by the honeybee industry are becoming ever more complex.
- Future declines in both pollinators and pollination are inevitable with or without climate change.
- The international community is well aware of the importance of the topic.
- Agricultural, forestry and natural ecosystems will have to adapt to changes in pollinator distributions and abundances and it will be crucial to be able to predict these in order to design mitigation procedures.
- Canadian research has been at the forefront in determining the crucial importance of bees as environmental indicators.
- Expertise in all aspects of pollination biology is available among the Canadian professoriate and scientific community outside academe.
- There is a widespread understanding of the importance of the topic in Canada and of the need to train highly qualified personnel in all aspects of the subject.
- A “critical mass” of skilled personnel is ready to provide this training, along with a critical mass of people willing to learn.