LIFE

This Small City Is Setting Aside 1,000 Acres For Bees And Butterflies

They're stepping up to save pollinators.

19/02/2017 7:20 AM AEDT | Updated 19/02/2017 7:20 AM AEDT

An Iowa city is gearing up for a major plan to create habitat for bees and butterflies.

This spring, Cedar Rapids will prepare the first 188 acres of unused public land for habitat conversion into pesticide-free havens filled with native prairie grasses and wildflowers, KWQC reports. The eventual goal is create 1,000 acres of habitat — hence its name, the 1,000 Acres Pollinator Initiative.

“We want to be a statewide leader in the effort to create more sustainable communities,” Cedar Rapids Parks Superintendent Daniel Gibbins told The Gazette last year. He noted that the project would not only create crucial habitat for pollinators but also add “enjoyable green space” to the city. And he told Popular Science this week that birds, mammals and other native species would likely benefit as well.

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A honeybee perches on a flower.

The areas slated to be converted includes patches of land on parks, right-of-ways and golf courses. So far, more than 400 acres within the city have been marked for habitat conversation, according to Cedar Rapids’ official website. It is working with the neighboring city of Marion, as well as Linn County, to reach the 1,000 acre-goal in the area.

And Gibbins told Popular Science that “there’s a big push” to extend the initiative to include up to 10,000 acres around the county.

The city’s site says the Monarch Research Project, a group dedicated to restoring pollinator habitat, were the ones to approach them with the idea.

Drastically declining bee populations in the United States and worldwide have been alarming environmentalists for years. Researchers blame the die-offs on a confluence of factors, including pesticide exposure, habitat loss, diseases and parasites, and poor management of bees used in agriculture.

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