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Vineyard Haven, MA – The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation organization, announced that the organization has received additional funding from the Edey Foundation to support ongoing efforts to document native bees and other pollinators on Martha’s Vineyard in 2011.
Both natural and managed landscapes rely on pollinators of crops and native plants. However, many of our primary pollinators may be in trouble. Because the non-native honey bee has declined 50% nationwide in recent decades and is not an effective pollinator of native plants, both natural areas and sustainable agriculture programs necessarily rely on the more diverse, native bee fauna. But some native bee species are also disappearing, in part due to habitat destruction and the transfer of diseases from domesticated bees to wild bees. The pollinator crisis, as it has come to be known, represents a significant threat to natural and managed ecosystems as well as food production. Scientists and industry experts are intensifying their focus on understanding threats to native pollinator species, in many cases the more reliable and viable alternative pollinators to honey bees.
More than 300 species of native bees occur in Massachusetts (of 4,000 nationwide). It is estimated that perhaps 200 species of native bees occur on Martha’s Vineyard alone. In 2010, with the help of volunteers, island conservation partners, and museum scientists, the inventory covered a wide range of habitats and generated the first-ever, season-long “snapshot” of Vineyard pollinators, with nearly 10,000 specimens of bees collected and more than 130 species (and counting) of bees identified, including species not seen in the region for almost four decades. These numbers represent nearly a third of New England’s known bee fauna, 40% of Massachusetts’ known bee fauna, and a tenfold increase in the documented occurrences of native bee species on Martha's Vineyard. The rusty patched bumblebee Bombus affinis, a target species recorded from the island as recently as the early 1990s but not in 2010, is suspected of having been extirpated from the region, and extra efforts this year will target the species to confirm or refute its disappearance from the Vineyard.
This ongoing project is the first of its kind to document the composition of the Island’s native bee fauna. This project will help landowners like The Trustees and its island partners better plan for the sensitive management of their properties, evaluate recent habitat restoration efforts, and offer opportunities to engage visitors and volunteers on this important issue. In short, bee populations may help us understand how sustainable our lands and management practices are in the face of growing threats, including climate change.
Dr. Paul Goldstein, a respected scientist in the field of entomology and the recognized authority on the insects of Martha’s Vineyard, continues to coordinate the inventory. With the help of volunteers, the inventory is taking place island-wide on multiple properties owned or managed by The Trustees, Mass Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, Vineyard Conservation Society, and Massachusetts State-owned lands.
Citizen-scientist volunteers are helping to sample bees, generate primary data on the composition of our native fauna, and database. For more information on how to get involved, contact The Trustees at 508-693-7662.
About the Trustees of Reservations on Martha’s Vineyard
The Trustees of Reservations own and manage five beautiful, ecologically significant properties on Martha’s Vineyard including Mytoi garden, Wasque Reservation, Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge, Long Point Wildlife Refuge, and Menemsha Hills and partner with the Commonwealth to manage Leland Beach and with Dukes County to manage Norton Point Beach. The Trustees management includes ongoing care and maintenance so these properties can remain open for the public to enjoy. It also includes shorebird protection and restoration of rare habitats, rare species, and sustainable and resilient ecosystems. The Trustees also offer programs and workshops for all ages at these properties throughout the year, including volunteer opportunities, special events and fishing, kayaking, lighthouse, and natural history tours. For the Islands Regional office, please call 508.693.7662.
The Trustees of Reservations Statewide
The Trustees are 100,000 members like you who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for current and future generations. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees “hold in trust,” and care for, 105 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts.
All of The Trustees’ reservations are open for the public to enjoy and most are free to Trustees members. The properties range from working farms and historic homesteads, to formal gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails, and mountain vistas. Several of The Trustees’ reservations are National Historic Landmarks and three have state-of-the-art green buildings.
The Trustees also work to promote healthy, active, green communities around the state, by providing hundreds of year-round programs and events that inspire people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors, and appreciate the history, nature, and culture of the Commonwealth. Most programs and events are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members.
The Trustees are committed to sustainable conservation and stewardship and are working to reduce their overall carbon footprint by caring for and managing their reservations in the “greenest” way possible, and promoting healthy landscapes that can adapt to or resist the changes that climate change. With these and other sustainable practices The Trustees also hope to engage and mobilize many more people to become a part of creating environmentally and economically sustainable communities.
Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. In addition to its many reservations spanning 26,000 acres, The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on more than 19,000 additional acres (a total larger than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts), and have worked with community partners to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres around the Commonwealth.
One of the largest non-profits in the state of Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 152 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out more and/or become a member, donor and/or volunteer, please contact www.thetrustees.org.
*Three years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of the final week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. In just three years Pollinator Week has grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. Pollinating animals, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and others, are vital to our delicate ecosystem, supporting terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed, and more. Therefore, Pollinator Week is a chance to reach as many people as possible with the message of the importance of pollinators.