Pollinators in the Landscape

Animal and insect pollinators are an essential part of the productivity of flowering plants and food production, but have been in decline in recent years. This decline is largely due to pesticide use, as well as habitat fragmentation and climate change, which force pollinators to travel further distances and face harsh weather. These conditions leave animals stressed and at a disadvantage to find the plants they rely on.

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Example of a pollinator habitat in Morris, CT

We are able to create new and improved habitats for pollinators through landscape architecture. This ecologically sustainable approach is more complex than it seems, with vegetation type, shelter sites, and safe location all needing to be kept in mind. An article written by Anthony Fettes highlights a few key concepts that should be utilized when creating pollinator-friendly landscapes, the first being to embrace the diversity that is inevitable when designing for multiple species. This includes have a wide range of florals, foraging sites, and taking into account how the changing seasons will effect the area, and how different pollinators will interact together. Site maintenance needs to be done with a different approach than typical landscapes, bringing awareness to how pruning effects these habitats, and avoiding pesticides at all costs, opting for more natural means of pest management. There are always opportunities for collaboration when building these types of landscapes, from universities, to botanical gardens, to ecological organizations. Landscape architects should always be looking to expand their knowledge and help to support the struggling diversity of pollinators.

Creating pollinator gardens is something that I would like to explore in my future career as a landscape architect. Since creating a plant palette is a large part of this, Fettes also discusses some key things to keep in mine when choosing vegetation. Designing to the native landscape is important, as well as trying to choose plants with long flowering periods. The different seasons need to be taken into account in order to provide a habitat for every time of year, and pesticides should be avoided as much as possible. With these tools in mind I feel confident in my ability to collaborate with others and create a sustainable space for pollinators that is also pleasing to the community. My goal is to educate rather than keep people away from these areas, and help to restore the pollinator community.


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