Leading US companies managing over 3,400 acres for pollinators

Pollinator ecosystem survey uncovers corporate goals and progress to protect pollinators 

The US Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) and Pollinator Partnership launched the Corporate Pollinator Ecosystem Project (C-PEP) with leading US companies to identify and quantify pollinator habitats established and maintained at various corporate properties. This project sought to uncover the total number of acres currently used as pollinator habitats on corporate lands and encourage other companies to develop acreage for pollinator habitats.

Forty percent of invertebrate pollinator species, bees and butterflies in particular, are facing extinction, according to a two-year study conducted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. 

“We know a large proportion of pollinators face the threat of extinction; it’s what we don’t know that is more troubling,” said Victoria Wojcik, research director of the Pollinator Partnership. “Research and monitoring is essential to learn more about the challenges faced by pollinators. Efforts by individual companies to assess and enhance pollinator habitats on their corporate properties will fill gaps and provide policymakers and scientists with additional conservation tools to protect these species.”

A comprehensive survey was sent to over 20 corporations in March 2016 to collect data about existing pollinator habitats. Seventy-four sites participated in the survey, and 41 percent of respondents noted that pollinator protection is included in their corporate sustainability goals. 

This project is aligned with the national strategy to promote the health of honeybees and other pollinators and the Wildlife Habitat Council’s mission to facilitate business engagement in biodiversity and conservation. The project was co-led by Susan Kelsey of General Motors and Greg Cekander of Waste Management, Inc. 

Kelsey presented the results on June 15, 2016 at Pathways to Impact, a joint US BCSD-WBCSD-Yale University conference in New Haven, Connecticut. According to the findings, 46 of 74 responding sites are actively managing for pollinators including butterflies, moths, native bees, monarch butterflies, honey bees, hummingbirds, wasps, to name a few.

“Businesses are actively pursuing habitat improvements for pollinators, and we’re trying to challenge additional companies to become part of the process,” said Kelsey. “As more people and organizations add pollinator habitats, we can create a large quilt of connected patches of habitats for pollinators to thrive.” 

Scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food humans eat exist because of pollinators. Corporations have a number of opportunities to improve pollinator habitat development and management. Many C-PEP survey respondents said they wanted more education on the issues within companies and the communities where they work. Some respondents said they would benefit from additional instruction on how pollinator habitats are developed and maintained. There is a clear opportunity for corporate organizations, like the US BCSD, to promote existing resources from pollinator organizations, like the Pollinator Partnership’s Monarch Habitat Development Guides for Corporate Lands

This survey presents a good sample of corporate leaders with sustainability commitments, particularly those with goals to protect declining pollinator populations in North America. The results of the project will be integrated into work by the National Pollinator Taskforce. 

Daniel Kietzer