Bumblebee on thistle

This week, the Global Environment Facility, has launched a new $27 million dollar project with the goal of saving animals that are needed to pollinate the many crops of the world. The United Nations Environment Programme will implement the program with the help of worldwide governments including Brazil, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan and South Africa. Many national agencies and institutions will help to support this project and protect these key species.

The goal of the program is to help protect species that pollinate some 35% of the worlds crops. Recently, the earth has seen the dramatic decline of entire populations of honey bees thought to be caused mainly by pesticides, pathogens, and parasites. In the United States, one particular pathogen thought to be infecting bees is called Nosema ceranae, and infects the digestive system. In the past, parasitic mites have caused winter die-offs that cause populations increased stress and lower productivity. Though many theories have been published, too little research has been done to single out any one source of population declines.

Many wild animals also rely on plants and fruits that require insects and birds to pollinate first. Blueberries, apples, pears, plums, melons, and cucumbers are just some of the crops that benefit from animals providing cross-pollination. With the decline of honey bees, birds, and bats, the future of crop production is at stake.

This project is important because it will help to identify the causes of the decline of pollinating bees, birds, bats, and insects. With a large budget of nearly $27 million, the ecosystems and habitats of these animals can be repaired and strengthened to provide an area that promotes healthy reproduction and population building. Without these steps, the world could face a widening food shortage as crops decline and fail to pollinate. By addressing this issue, the GEF and UNEP hope to balance this process which in turn will help to stabilize ecosystems that provide many other benefits. Sustainable agriculture depends on providing a safe, healthy environment for the many animals and insects that help to create the crops that humans consume everyday.