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Providing for pollinators is projects priority

Pollinator pathway. Bumblebee highway. River of flowers. Bee line. These have all described habitat corridors created to help pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. We can add butterflyways to the list.Residents of Toronto recently celebrated official designation of Canada’s first neighbourhood butterflyway. The David Suzuki Foundation began its Butterflyway Project earlier this year, recruiting more than 150 residents in five cities as the first butterflyway rangers. These volunteers learned how to help local pollinators flourish. They returned to their neighbourhoods with a mission: create a local Butterflyway by planting at least a dozen pollinator patches filled with native wildflowers that support these essential critters.What happened next is inspiring. Rangers in each city connected with local gardening and horticulture groups, businesses, municipal councillors and parks staff, teachers and daycares. They attended community events and hatched plans to establish new butterfly gardens in parks, schools and yards. Once they began seeding these ideas, it took little time for the butterflyways to begin blooming.In May and June, activities ranged from creating butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a Victoria parade to adopting city parks in Richmond. In Markham and Toronto, rangers built on a project started through the foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project, installing a dozen wildflower-filled canoes in parks, schools and daycares. In Toronto’s west end, a pair of Rangers led the butterflyway lane art project, painting butterfly-themed murals on two dozen garage doors, walls and fences in a laneway facing Garrison Creek Park.In late June, Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood and Richmond, B.C., surpassed the target of a dozen ranger-led plantings, earning kudos from the foundation for creating Canada’s first Butterflyways. The project is spreading, with neighbouring city councillors and groups clamouring to get their own butterflyways.Article Continued BelowParading around as rangers and planting wildflowers can be a fun way to engage communities and celebrate nature, but the project’s conservation potential is equally intriguing.Reproduction for about 90 per cent of flowering plant species depends on pollinators, from bees and butterflies to hummingbirds and bats. We have pollinators to thank for one of every three bites of food we eat. Sadly, threats like development, pesticides and climate change are dramatically reducing pollinator diversity and numbers. A 2016 UN report found 40 per cent of all insect pollinators worldwide are under threat. More than 50 butterfly and moth species and a quarter of all bumblebee species in North America are threatened, and six species of native bees await protection under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

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