Naturalist educating on ultimate pollinators

Red Deer naturalist Bill Heinsen figures the average Red Deerian doesn’t remember their Grade 7 biology lessons all that well.

Red Deer naturalist Bill Heinsen figures the average Red Deerian doesn’t remember their Grade 7 biology lessons all that well.

But Heinsen hopes that they will educate themselves on environmental issues and the critical role that pollinators play for survival.

“It’s not a question of not wanting to know,” said Heinsen. “Most people do not deliberately go out of their way to destroy something that is beneficial to them. A prime example would be the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) back in the 1950s.”

Heinsen hosted the second Lunch Bag Seminar Series to mark Environment Week at the downtown branch of the Red Deer Public Library on Tuesday.

In a general presentation on pollination, Heinsen told the small but engaged crowd that there are about 1,000 plants that are grown in the world for food, fibres, beverages, medicines and spices that need to be pollinated.

Without pollinators such as bees, birds, insects, bats and animals, there would be very little food or beauty.

Heinsen said the ultimate pollinator is the bee.

“If all the other pollinators in the world disappeared it would be a problem for some plants but if all the bees stayed most of the plants would continue to survive,” said Heinsen. “Bees are really where they are at.”

But bees and other pollinators are in trouble because of loss of habitat, degradation, pesticide use and fragmentation.

“We have to look after them,” he said. “That’s the message.”

In March, Red Deer city council directed administration to look into creating dedicated pollinator parks within existing or future city parks. As well, council directed administration to explore permanent banning of neonicotinoids and related pesticides in consideration with a report on pesticides coming to the Governance and Policy Committee later this year. Council also requested that Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Federal Association of Municipalities include the protection of pollinators in their advocacy efforts at their committees on the environment.

“I don’t think Red Deer is doing any better or any worse than anywhere else,” said Heinsen. “Sure we have the park system but the park system is only a tiny part of the City of Red Deer. Most of Red Deer is manicured lawns, asphalt streets.”

Heinsen said city planners and designers are starting to think about these things.

Wednesday’s Lunch Bag focuses on Dark Skies: What are they? Why are they important? at the Snell Auditorium at 12:05 p.m.

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