The Canadian Honey Bee Council estimates that the Canadian bee population has declined by 35 per cent in the past three years. The City, in partnership with Fleming College and the environmental community are working together to reverse this decline.
“Pollinating insects play a major role in the agriculture industry to ensure food crops are properly established. They help to ensure sustainable food for our community and surrounding area,” commented David Kerr, Manager of Environmental Services.
The project was spearheaded by the KLEAC “In the fall of 2014, it came to our committee’s attention that a six hectare cell at the Fenelon landfill was to be decommissioned. This meant it would be covered with clay and topsoil and a vegetative cover would be planted to prevent erosion,” explained CKLEAC member Susan Blayney.
After new soil is placed on the top of an old landfill to cover the waste, it is necessary to establish vegetation on the soil to prevent erosion and minimize water infiltration into the landfill according to Kerr. Vegetation currently used for this application is an assortment of grass mixtures which have a thick mat like root base. However, pollinating insects are not attracted to grass mixtures so wild flowers and clover type mixes will be used.
The pollinator mix being tested by the city will have a mixture of flowers with strong root bases and other vegetation that they hope will perform as well as the traditional grass mixes. A seed mix was sourced from Pickseed Canada Inc., in Lindsay, over the winter of 2014/2015 and approved by a pollination expert on faculty at Fleming College in Lindsay.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is a partner in this project and has granted the city the opportunity to test a pollinator mix on the cap rather than requiring the standard seed mix to be placed on the entire cap.
The city says If this project is successful, pollinator seed mixes may be able to be used in many other applications, not just to cover landfills. Some examples would be open spaces, fields, boulevards and parks, to name a few.
Blayney says she is excited about the new pilot project KLEAC has spearheaded. “This land has been taken out of habitat for many years, and now it is able to give back. This is community involvement at its best, and one of the reasons I’m proud to be a part of the committee.”
Several years ago the city installed a methane gas collection system on one of their landfills to harness fuel from the landfill to generate electricity. Now they are using the old landfills to help insects and better sustain our food crops. Kerr says “It is part of our commitment to foster a healthy environment for current and future generations.”
Other municipalities are starting to show interest in the project.