Why monarchs? While monarchs are intrinsically important, conserving monarchs matters for more than just their own protection. We’re exploring the ways that monarch habitat and conservation helps people, other wildlife and the environment in this ‘More than Monarchs’ series! Join us to learn more.
Pollinators and the services they provide are the backbone to our landscapes, ecosystems, and sometimes even economies. Whether you are talking about agriculture and food stability, industry and material supplies, or natural areas and strong, diverse, communities of plants and animals - pollinators play a critical role in many of these domains. Noting the importance of these tiny heroes to our ways of life and the threats they face, many organizations, institutions, individuals, and agencies have dedicated themselves to ensuring pollinators have the ability to thrive amongst the many challenges they face.
The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) is a fine example of large-scale collaborative conservation, created to address the diverse nature of pollinator needs. NAPPC was borne over twenty years ago of a small group of committed scientists and pollinator advocates. In its nascent stages, that small group convened experts in the field of entomology, botany, science, and policy to determine how to bring the attention to declining pollinator populations worldwide, and to draw connections between those declines and threats to the stability of terrestrial ecosystems and agriculture.
Many familiar monarch conservation leaders were a part of the early NAPPC network, including Laurie Adams of the Pollinator Partnership, Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch, Larry Stritch of the U.S. Forest Service, and Karen Oberhauser of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. Cross discipline Task Forces were created to form short-term, project-oriented groups which work together each year to accomplish specific goals. These Task Forces address a variety of pollinator issues, from Imperiled Bombus Conservation to Pesticide Education and target a variety of landscape types (agricultural, managed, and urban) across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Monarch Task Force has long been a strong component of NAPPC. Along with the MJV communications working group, this task force brings you the More than Monarchs series, for example.
Today, we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the creation of this collaborative partnership and give thanks to all those that have contributed to NAPPC over the last 20 years, to make it what it is today. With the leaders from across the world of pollinators, and enthusiastic participation from organizations, agencies, and individuals, these last two decades have seen an explosion of interest in helping pollinators. This collaboration has enabled the creation of a united front for pollinator conservation, allowing the community to leverage existing work and it has also spurred the development of numerous projects, programs, and resources to aid pollinator conservation. Community scientists engage in migration monitoring efforts such as Journey North, tagging and tag retrieval through Monarch Watch, and establishing gardens that invite monarchs into backyards, businesses, and schools with Eco-regional Guides on how to build pollinator-friendly gardens. Natural resource managers receive guidance on how to incorporate monarchs into habitat restoration efforts through technical documents such as the Forest Service “Conservation and Management of Monarch Butterflies”, and federal land management agencies were directed to incorporate pollinator conservation into their policies and management activities during the Obama Administration’s focus on pollinator health. All of the groups working with NAPPC share a common vision for helping pollinators and are diverse in their approach to solve the problems pollinators face.
Two decades of working through NAPPC task forces with a network of international partners demonstrates how we can collectively make a difference in the world - across a multitude of landscapes, with a diversity of partners, and through the sheer tenacity and endurance of a long-term movement for change. Vital to any movement is understanding the value and opinions of diverse partners and meeting people – farmers, community members, gardeners, activists, and policymakers – ‘where they are’ in order to address economic and societal conditions that can lead to population declines in migratory animals such as monarchs.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
Can a small group of committed individuals make a difference in pollinator conservation, or in any other movement for change? Indeed, it has! Join us in celebrating this 20 year anniversary of NAPPC and watch the Earth Optimism Deep Dive episode hosted by the Smithsonian if you’d like to learn more about this international collaborative.
NAPPC’s example of diverse coalition building is just one example of the power of partnership and how the work we do for monarchs can make a difference in many ways. Keep following our “More than Monarchs” series to hear more stories of what monarchs can do for us, our communities and our world.
Article written by Kim Winter (U.S. Forest Service) with contributions from Amber Barnes (Pollinator Partnership) for the Monarch Joint Venture Communications Working Group and NAPPC Monarch Taskforce’s More than Monarchs Series. The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. The content in this article does not necessarily reflect the positions of all Monarch Joint Venture partners. Images included in the header courtesy of NAPPC.