On May 19th, 2015, the White House Pollinator Health Task Force published the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. This Executive Branch plan lays out a framework for tackling and reducing the impact of threats to pollinator health, such as pests and pathogens, loss of habitat and nutritional sources, and pesticide exposure. The strategy is a response to a Presidential Memorandum last June, which recognized the critical importance of pollinators, including monarchs, and the need to expand federal efforts to protect them.
The Monarch Joint Venture commends the White House’s plan as the first executive strategy for pollinator conservation, and hopes to see continued federal leadership to conserve monarchs. The major goals outlined in the plan address honey bee colony loss, pollinator habitat acreage, and the monarch butterfly population. To achieve its aims, the Task Force identifies education and outreach, public-private partnerships, and research into pollinator stressors as priorities.
Monarch butterfly conservation is a key component of the strategy, as stated in one of the plan’s three chief goals:
“Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies occupying an area of approximately 15 acres (6 hectares) in the overwintering grounds in Mexico, through domestic/international actions and public-private partnerships, by 2020.”
White House scientists recognized the more than 90% decline of monarchs overwintering in Mexico over the past 20 years as huge risk to the iconic North American monarch migration. The plan’s objectives to increase priority habitat for pollinators, evaluate and mitigate pesticide impacts, and promote public education and outreach are a national step forward in addressing the decline of monarchs and other pollinators.
In addition to the recent announcement of the National Strategy, the federal response to the decline in monarch butterflies is heartening. We’re excited to see agencies come together to protect an iconic species. Here are just a few highlights of what MJV federal partners have underway, and we applaud other agencies not listed here for their efforts to protect monarchs and other pollinators as well:
- Led by the US Geological Survey, the Monarch Science Partnership aims to track and identify habitats most valuable for monarch conservation resources in addition to developing priority research tools and designs.
- Efforts underway by the US Fish and Wildlife Service include partnering with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to promote monarchs as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in State Wildlife Action Plans, working with governments in Canada and Mexico to develop a Tri-national Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan, and restoring or enhancing 200,000 acres of habitat for monarchs on public and private lands in FY15, primarily along the I-35 interstate corridor.
- The Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency are working to develop and implement new practices or sub-practices to benefit monarchs and other pollinators through Farm Bill and other conservation programs.
- The US Forest Service continues to provide integral support for the national MJV partnership, supports and fosters a network of educators throughout the U.S. through the North American Monarch Institute, and works to establish monarch and pollinator habitat on their lands throughout the country.
- The Bureau of Land Management is a recent new partner of the MJV and plans to reach key stakeholders to integrate and enhance monarch-friendly practices on public lands and ensure genetically-appropriate native plant materials are available, including milkweeds.
- The National Park Service will be the federal lead in developing an interagency outreach toolkit for pollinators, including monarchs.
The National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators can be accessed online HERE. We look forward to working with our partners and other stakeholders to implement and further develop this framework, and encourage you to respond to the President’s call to action! You can learn more about monarch conservation efforts and Get Involved in protecting monarchs with MJV!