Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pollinator Task Force Makes Recommendations to Save Honeybees and Butterflies

From Ag and Markets:

The New York State Pollinator Task Force has come up with recommendations on how to address the decline in bees and other pollinators that has occurred in recent years.

The commissioners of the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Environmental Conservation have met with farmers, research institutions and key industry leaders to develop a roadmap to conserve and grow pollinator populations across the state. 

Pollinators – which include various types of bees and butterflies – contribute significantly to the state’s agricultural economy by adding roughly $350 million in pollination services on an annual basis.

“Pollinators are critical to our ecosystem, as well as New York's agricultural industry, and the work of this Task Force will help in our efforts to reverse the troubling decline of the bee population in New York and help to preserve and further improve this state's environmental and economic health," said gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As a result of listening sessions and stakeholder input, the Task Force focused its recommendations on four priority areas: 

** Development of Voluntary Best Management Practices for all pollinator stakeholders, including beekeepers, growers, land owners, state agencies and the general public;  

** Habitat enhancement efforts to protect and revive populations of native and managed pollinators;  

** Research and monitoring of pollinators to better understand, prevent and recover from pollinator losses; and  

** Development of an outreach and public education program on the importance of pollinators, engaging the public to be active participants to seek solutions to pollinator declines.

“We are pleased to present the NYS Pollinator Protection Plan, which includes best practices for our farmers, land owners, bee keepers and state agencies, many of which we can get to work on immediately," said Ag and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball.
“While more research needs to be done, we know that the key to reversing the trend of a declining pollinator population in New York is a comprehensive approach that looks at a variety of issues that may be impacting bee health."

Pollinators contribute substantially to the state’s economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators provide about $344 million worth of pollination services to New York and add $29 billion in value to crop production nationally each year. New York’s ability to produce crops such as apples, grapes, cherries, onions, pumpkins and cauliflower relies heavily on the presence of pollinators.
Pollinator Protection Plan Recommendations
Central to the New York State Pollinator Protection Plan is the development and implementation of Best Management Practices to guide landowners/growers, contract beekeepers, hobbyist beekeepers, pesticide users and state agencies to safeguard existing managed and native pollinator populations. 

The plan also highlights efforts already underway at various state agencies to reverse the decline in pollinators and 
restore their habitat.
Despite a 9 percent increase in honey production last year, New York’s beekeepers continue to experience unsustainable population declines. Over the last four years, recent research indicates managed pollinator colonies have declined over 50 percent while some migratory pollinators have declines in excess of 70 percent. 

This is compounded by the losses in the native pollinator community and the habitat that sustains them.
In its report, the task force emphasized the need for comprehensive, state-focused research to better understand the status of native pollinators in the sState and the factors that impact both managed and wild pollinator health and performance.
Future Actions and Pollinator Projects
The 2016-17 enacted Budget provides $500,000 through the Environmental Protection Fund to implement key projects central to the success of the Pollinator Protection Plan. 

As detailed in the plan, this money will be used to conduct additional research on the impacts of pesticide and pathogens/parasite interactions on native and managed pollinator health, as well as the effects of bee-husbandry practices on the performance of managed hives. 
Pollinator research funding will also support a multi-year evaluation conducted by DEC on the status and distribution of New York State’s native pollinator species.

Environmental Protection Fund money also will support implementation of voluntary best management practices and outreach and education activities, including the creation of pollinator gardens and interpretative signage at select State Park locations, and the establishment of the New York’s Tech Team for Beekeepers, which will provide participating apiaries with site-specific technical support.

All priority recommendations of the New York State Pollinator Protection Plan can be found http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/279.html  at this link. As new research and monitoring data become available, the Task Force will reconvene with its advisors to evaluate the findings and update the Plan accordingly and to include additional and improved actions.

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