Bringing innovation and success to pollinator habitat project design

By Peter S. Berthelsen, Pheasants Forever, Inc., Director of Habitat Partnerships

The goal of NextGen Habitat Projects is to provide key benefits for honey bees and monarch butterflies. Using updated technology and working with agriculture to identify the correct locations for projects, we can impact a wide range of wildlife and pollinator species. ©Pete Berthelsen

When designed with updated tools, technology and a wider range of appropriate species, pollinator habitat can help make “every acre the best it can be” for wildlife ranging from pollinators to grassland songbirds to pheasants and quail. ©Pete Berthelsen

As the demands on wildlife habitat continue to increase due to a variety of factors like urbanization, advancements in agriculture, and weather, the need to have every remaining and available acre of habitat be the best it can be has never been greater. The goal of making “every acre the best it can be” is behind the creation of a new partnership called The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund (B&BHF).  The B&BHF was formed by Pheasants Forever, Inc., Project Apis m. and Browning Honey Co. and is supported by a wide range of agricultural industry partners like Bayer’s Crop Science division, commercial beekeepers, the honey packing industry and others. The goal of the partnership is to deliver high-quality pollinator habitat projects in an innovative and different way than traditional pollinator programs and efforts.

The B&BHF was formed to provide critical habitat needs for monarch butterflies, honey bees, native bees, grassland songbirds and other wildlife through a set of specific goals and objectives. The habitat projects are referred to as NextGen Habitat Projects and are designed to provide:

  1. Diversified habitat projects following a new high quality habitat standard developed by the group.
  2. Cost-effective habitat projects that are highly nutritious and valuable.
  3. The opportunity to design seed mixtures using improved tools, technology and a wide range of pollinator important plant species.
  4. Seed mixtures that both establish easily and provide significant weed competition benefits.
  5. A set of incentives based on three to six year contracts for landowners.
  6. The opportunity to work with agriculture to identify opportunities where NextGen Habitat Projects can fit into the farm and ranch operation.

In just two short years, the partnership’s pilot program effort worked with 75 landowners in North and South Dakota to enroll 1,869 acres of high quality habitat for six years.  Beginning in 2017, the B&BHF is now expanding to additional states where new projects are being established to provide critical pollinator habitat support.

By bringing together a wide range of stakeholders with common interests, NextGen Habitat Projects can be an innovative way of addressing pollinator habitat needs, water quality, sustainability issues and soil health and providing high-quality habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

For more information on NextGen Habitat Projects, check out our website at www.BeeAndButterflyFund.org.

Bayer Bee Care is a Strategic Partner of The Wildlife Society.