Bringing together science and Indigenous and local knowledge, as well as supporting traditional practices that promote the survival of pollinators, forms an important part of the global response to pollinators under threat.
The landmark United Nations report on pollinator decline suggests policies that could be adopted by governments, including encouraging farmers to protect and manage wildlife that underpins crop production; mixing up monocultures to cut down on ‘green deserts’; and creating ‘bee highways’, providing habitat that links together to allow them to move across landscapes.
What does a cappuccino and a zucchini have in common? The existence of both is reliant on industrious creatures called pollinators.
Pollinators help plants to grow fruit or seeds by transporting pollen from one part of a plant to another. Without this process, the plants could not reproduce, which makes pollinators vital to the production of many of the world’s most important crops, as well as millions of jobs and livelihoods that are dependent on this production.
More than three-quarters of the world’s food crops rely at least in part on pollination by insects and other animals and between US$235 billion and US$577 billion worth of annual global food production relies on direct contributions by pollinators.
Chapter 5 of the assessment focuses on bringing Indigenous and local knowledge about pollinators together with scientific knowledge, while also investigating the broad socio-cultural values of pollinators and pollination.
“This is the first assessment from IPBES and the first global assessment of biodiversity to include information and recommendations on Indigenous and local knowledge,” said Dr Ro Hill, coordinating author of Chapter 5 and a researcher with our Biodiversity and Ecosystems Knowledge Systems program.
“The inclusion of Indigenous knowledge will be fundamental to the effective formulation of knowledge based policies for biodiversity into the future.”
Indigenous communities around the world understand local biodiversity in detail, and Dr Hill’s work provides examples from many locations where practices relevant to supporting pollinators and pollination are based on Indigenous and local knowledge.
“For example, the Yolgnu people in Arnhem Land, Australia, have totemic relationships that honour and protect stingless bees and their habitat,” she said.
The IPBES assessment found that bringing together science and Indigenous and local knowledge, as well as supporting traditional practices that promote the survival of pollinators, will form an important part of the global response to pollinators under threat.
The options identified by IPBES to help safeguard pollinators include:
- Maintaining or creating greater diversity of pollinator habitats in agricultural and urban landscapes;
- Supporting traditional practices that manage habitat patchiness, crop rotation, and coproduction between science and indigenous local knowledge;
- Education and exchange of knowledge among farmers, scientists, industry, communities, and the general public;
- Decreasing exposure of pollinators to pesticides by reducing their usage, seeking alternative forms of pest control, and adopting a range of specific application practices, including technologies to reduce pesticide drift; and
- Improving managed bee husbandry for pathogen control, coupled with better regulation of trade and use of commercial pollinators.
Original article CSIROScope BY KATE FAGAN 1 MAR, 2016