When you see the first Monarch butterfly of the season fluttering by, do you ever stop to think how far that magnificent insect has traveled? In fact, it is part of an epic migration that spans a continent and multiple generations. Each year, the great-grandchildren of Monarch butterflies that traveled south to their overwintering grounds in Mexico return north to feed off the summer wildflowers in the United States and Canada. In celebration of North American Pollinator Week, TransCanada is proud to announce our continued support for the conservation of Monarch butterflies.
The Monarch butterfly is a pollinator — an animal or insect that moves the pollen that’s crucial to the existence of most plants. Through these interactions with plants, pollinators provide an incredible service to the world. They bring us countless fruits, vegetables and nuts, supply half of the world’s oils, are responsible for producing raw materials and fibers, prevent soil erosion and increase carbon sequestration.
Insect pollinators are critical to ensuring that wildflowers in natural landscapes continue to reproduce. In fact, over 80% of plants can’t make a seed without the help of a pollinator. In agricultural settings, bees are especially important pollinators that support an estimated one third of all our food and beverages contributing to $20-billion worth of products every year in the U.S.
“It is essential that organizations like TransCanada get involved in pollinator conservation to help set an industry precedent for pollinator-friendly right of way reclamation.”
— Vicki Wojcik, Research Director at Pollinator Partnership
Monarchs and other pollinators are important contributors to the livelihoods and cultures of landowners in the communities across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, where TransCanada does business. Humans can’t easily recreate the process of pollination for large crops and natural landscapes so the existence of pollinators is crucial.
Luckily, organizations such as Pollinator Partnership (P2) — the largest organization in the world exclusively dedicating to saving pollinators — are working hard to conserve these important species and keep our ecosystems thriving.
“We are already seeing a drastic decline in pollinator populations in North American — Monarch numbers have dropped by over 90 percent in some areas and that is a cause for worry,” says Wojcik.
This year, the Monarch crisis was brought to the world’s attention by Presidents of the U.S. and Mexico and Canada’s Prime Minister at the annual North American Leaders’ Summit. These majestic insects have experienced a steady decline over the past two decades and this year the total area occupied by overwintering butterflies in the volcanic mountains of Mexico plunged from 6.7 hectares to a record low of .67 hectares.
“I am proud to say that for three years before the Monarch butterfly appeal at the North American Leader’s Summit, TransCanada was already doing their part to help protect the Monarchs and other pollinators,” says Scott Farris, director, Government Relations, US Pipelines West. “In 2011 we entered into a five-year partnership with P2 and since the inception of the partnership we’ve supported the development and distribution of regional Utility Monarch Planting Guides.”
Scientists have attributed the decrease in Monarch migration to two main causes: loss of breeding habitat and degradation of their overwintering habitat. Both of which are the result of human disruption through agricultural intensification, pesticide use or deforestation.
As part of our Community Investment program, TransCanada is working diligently with P2 between 2014 and 2017 to create an awareness campaign to promote the importance of Monarch and pollinator conservation. The campaign will encourage community members, landowners and businesses to plant Monarch-friendly gardens along the species’ flyways, which include eastern, central and pacific North America.
As one of North America’s leading energy infrastructure companies, TransCanada respects the diversity of the landscapes in which we operate and always consider the environmental aspects of our business activities. Like our partnership with P2, we are actively involved in many conservation efforts across North America.