This week we were pleased to formally present staff from Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), and Ministry of the Environment of Climate Change (MOECC) with our ECO Recognition Award for protecting Ontario’s pollinators.
The multi-ministry team created a Pollinator Health Strategy and Action Plan that includes actions and dedicated funding to protect pollinators (which include certain species of birds, bees and other insects) and a commitment to ongoing research.
Individual awards were presented to 63 staff from OMAFRA, MNRF and MOECC.
Elements of the Pollinator Health Strategy and Action Plan include:
- making a regulation to reduce the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, a known threat to pollinators, in grain, corn and soybean farming;
- creating financial compensation programs to support commercial beekeepers;
- co-ordinating science, research and monitoring to help implement the strategy; and
- undertaking extensive consultation and communication efforts.
The plan set ambitious targets to:
- reduce by 80% the acreage of neonicotinoid-treated crops by 2017;
- lower the mortality rate of over-wintering honey bees by at least 15% by 2020; and
- protect, restore and enhance one million acres of pollinator habitat in Ontario.
Public consultation, a key component of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, was an integral part of the development of the strategy and action plan. The ministries posted three proposals on the Environmental Registry, receiving over 80,000 comments from the public.
Pollinators – insects, birds and other creatures that play a role in the pollination of plants – are vital to natural ecosystems and agricultural productivity all over the world. They are estimated to contribute over $990 million annually to Ontario’s economy. Ontario also has a managed honey bee sector, with an estimated population of 97,342 colonies and 2,896 registered beekeepers in 2016.
The Environmental Commissioner’s Recognition Award recognizes Ontario civil servants for their work on projects that are innovative, go beyond legal mandates, better Ontario’s environment, and meet the requirements and purposes of the Environmental Bill of Rights. This year’s award was profiled in the ECO’s 2017 Environmental Protection Report, Good Choices, Bad Choices.