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ASLA-NY POSITION PAPER on PROTECTING POLLINATORS

September 18, 2015

Click to download a PDF version

Summary
The American Society of Landscape Architects – New York Chapter (ASLA-NY), represents nearly 600 professional practitioners, academics and affiliates. We promote long-term ecological health and fitness of the environment including protection of pollinators, which are keystone ecosystem species that provide vital ecosystem services to agricultural, ornamental and natural landscapes. It is part of the society’s mission to share knowledge and encourage communication between public officials and community leaders to improve policies and practices. The White House issued a directive in April, 2015 to Federal agencies, crafted with ASLA assistance, to develop a coordinated approach to protecting pollinators.(1)

In that spirit, we offer this ASLA-NY position paper to inform our members and the public about the issues, especially in regards to New York landscapes. Our goal is to help redirect a suite of human actions which have long-term adverse impacts on pollinators to favor practices which support these very beneficial species.

Pollinators in trouble
Pollinators include managed and wild bees, moths, wasps, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, hornets, flies, beetles and other insects which visit flowering plants, spread pollen from flower to flower, and enable fruits, nuts, acorns, seeds and vegetables to develop. There are another 4,000 species of bees in the US in addition to the honey bee(2) and they play a critical role in pollinating ornamental plants, forests, grassland and wetland species, and food crops.

Populations of many, though not all, managed and wild pollinators are in decline worldwide, resulting in a large and growing body of scientific studies documenting pollinator numbers, causes of decline and the results of strategies intended to help. New research is rapidly adding to the knowledge base for helping pollinators to recover. After reviewing some of the recent research, consulting with scientists and other advocates for pollinator-protection actions, ASLA-NY joins a number of concerned organizations(3) which have issued papers and guidelines for reversing the trend, and helping these populations recover. As additional information becomes available, ASLA-NY’s position may be revised in response to new evidence.

Across the U.S. the number of pollinators has dropped significantly over the last 50 years. Declines in managed honey bee populations have been monitored most closely, with U.S. beekeepers losing an average of 30% of their colonies each winter. Several species of wild pollinator populations, which are more difficult to monitor, also show evidence of widespread loss. For example, approximately half of U. S. and European bumble bee species studied have reduced populations, though a smaller percentage show increases.(4) Read more

NYS Prohibited & Regulated Invasive Species Now in Effect

The NYS Prohibited and Regulated Invasive Species regulation is now in effect.  To review which plants are prohibited and which are regulated, visit the following website (just scroll down beyond the explanation of terms): http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93848.html

 

To review alternatives for invasive species check out these two helpful links from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County & NYS Integrated Pest Management Program:

Finding Alternatives to Invasive Ornamental Plants in New York  (Lists alternatives for both invasive species, and those on the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area Species lists)

Alternatives to Ornamental Invasive Plants: A Sustainable Solution for New York State (Lists alternatives to both the Prohibited and Regulated invasive species on the NYS 6 NYCRR Part 575 regulation)

 

There’s been some confusion regarding the three invasive species regulations that affect our industry.  When questioning which law takes precedence (State vs. County in this case), the stricter law always does, even if the stricter law is a local mandate.  For example, under the State regulation, Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii and cultivars) has a one year grace period before it will be prohibited for sale, transport, etc. It will be prohibited on March 10, 2016 under the NYS regulation. During this grace period, it is to be treated as a Regulated Invasive Species.  HOWEVER, if your nursery or customer is located in Suffolk or Nassau County, Japanese Barberry was banned for sale, transport, etc. effective January 2014 under Suffolk County’s Do Not Sell List of invasive species, and Nassau County’s Invasive Species List (see first highlighted area below for links to each list).  Even the cultivars approved for State exemption cannot be sold in Suffolk or Nassau County unless legislators from each County approve an amendment to County law to allow it.

Another example involves two running bamboo species (Phyllostachys aureosulcata and Paurea). Both are prohibited under the NYS Invasive Species regulation.  Even though neither of these species is listed on either of Suffolk or Nassau County’s Invasive Species law, the State law must be followed.

Lastly, the mandatory label requirements for NYS Regulated Invasive Species apply to those species on the Suffolk and Nassau County Invasive Species lists that have yet to reach their ban dates.  For example, the ban date for Chinese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis) under County law is January 1, 2016.  County does not mandate a label noting the plant’s invasive tendencies while it’s still legal to sell.  However, since Chinese silver grass is listed as a Regulated Invasive Species under State law then the mandated label must be used by nurseries and landscapers in Long Island until the ban date becomes effective.  Again, thereafter even the cultivars approved for State exemption cannot be sold, etc. in Suffolk or Nassau County unless legislators from each County approve an amendment to County law to allow it.

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