Pollinators like bees perform an essential role in the nature’s web. Recent studies estimate that 75 to 80 percent of flowering plants depend on pollination, mostly by insects, although butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and others contribute somewhat. Fully 30 percent of the food we enjoy depends on insect pollination, and so pollinators are considered, despite their modest appearance, to hold a keystone role in the world’s ecology and economy.  As we see pollinators, the wealth they support, and the food chain they enrich, decline precipitously, is there anything that small organizations like land trusts can do to help?

SKLT, like many other land trusts, is taking advantage of programs developed by the U.S Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). On our 250-acre Browning Woods/Kenney property, SKLT has cleared 4 acres which are being planted with native flowering plant species that benefit pollinators, and has drilled bee nest holes in wooden blocks and tree stumps. On the 100-acre Weeden Farm, SKLT is managing 11 acres as native plant habitat for several varieties of goldenrod and other forbs, prolific pollen sources, and leaving significant areas of meadow. In Kingston, the 11-acre Biscuit City property is being restored with native forest understory habitat, and plantings of native flowering and berry-producing shrubs and wetland plants.

On Thursday, November 13th, biologist Gary Casabona will present a program at the Barn on the creation or enhancement of pollinator habitat through establishment of herbaceous and woody species of highest value to pollinators.  The role of specific plant species as providers of pollen, nectar, and nesting sites will be covered in detail. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of site preparation techniques prior to seeding.  Relevant aspects of insect life history, especially for bumblebees, will be covered.  Choice of plant species that also benefit other wildlife species, such as migratory songbirds, will be part of the discussion. Come to the Barn, 17 Matunuck Beach Road, at 6:30pm for potluck appetizers; the program will start at 7pm.

Gary is the statewide wildlife biologist for NRCS in Warwick, moving to RI from New Jersey in 2011, where he worked for USDA-NRCS for 14 years. Gary oversees habitat projects for New England cottontail, native pollinators, scrub/shrub birds, wetland restoration, fish passage, and oyster restoration. When Gary is not at work, he can usually be found birding, or making incredibly loud noises with a guitar strapped over his shoulder.