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Bring back the bees

One of the most dire issues facing the environment in recent years is the rapid decline of bee populations. Pollinators are some of the most important organisms in any ecosystem, as it is their responsibility to cross-pollinate different plants thereby increasing genetic diversity in a community. If a species suffers from too little genetic variation it will eventually result in the species’ demise. This can be seen around the world today in many different plant and animal species, for example the Javan Rhinoceros, which has an estimated population of fewer than sixty individuals.

There are many species of pollinators other than insects that vary greatly from birds, such as hummingbirds, honeyeaters and sunbirds, to mammals such as monkeys, lemurs, possums, bats and rodents to even various species of lizards. However, bees remain perhaps the most widely recognized pollinating species and they have finally become the latest target of the Obama Administration’s more aggressive approach to environmental standards and expectations.

Obama released a memorandum this week calling for “a federal strategy to promote the health of honeybees and other pollinators”. He goes on to state that pollinators are a vital source to the agricultural economy of the country, as they add more than $15 billion in crop revenue annually. Environmental stressors that have been implicated in the rapid decline of bees, butterflies and other pollinators include poor bee nutrition, lack of land to forage, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity and the ever-increasing use of pesticides.

It is the objective of this memorandum to issue a task force that will address the multitude of severe environmental concerns plaguing this country. The task force must develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy within 180 days of the issued memorandum. The organization should outline explicit goals, including increasing and improving pollinator habitat, educate the public and continue to research the remaining bee populations.