Pollinator populations are crashing world-wide. This decline is significant because pollinators provide a critical food system ecosystem service. More than one third of all food we eat depends on pollination, particularly pollination from bees. In fact many crops like blueberries and cherries are 90% dependent on bees. Bees are estimated to provide over $14 billion dollars to the value of crop production in the US.
Since 2006, U.S. beekeepers have reported a dramatic decline in honeybee hives. From spring 2014 to spring 2015, Wisconsin is estimated to have lost over 60 percent of its honeybee colonies. Of larger concern is the decline of wild bee and monarch butterfly populations because research has shown they are more efficient crop pollinators than the introduced honey bees.
Pollinator population losses are due to design choices in commercial and residential plantings, as well as regional land use and management policies. During the Fall LA 462: Regional Design I challenged the students to envision a pollinator friendly Dane County, that also accommodated the projected population growth of the next 25 years. In order to accomplish this task the students had to balance competing interests and overcome various barriers such as: urban growth and land management policies, population growth trends, land ownership, inequities in income and land ownership, zoning requirements, and entrenched landscape aesthetic values.
The course was divided into five phases.
- Phase I – Pollinator problem identification
- Phase II – Regional inventory
- Phase III – Regional context
- Phase IV – Regional plan and impacts
- Phase V – Design typologies
Student’s final projects were a synthesis of there work throughout the semester, culminating in design typology recommendations. Additionally, I presented their work at the 2017 WI-ASLA meeting, which was discussed in a previous blog post (click here if you would like to read more).