Why Focus on Native Plants?
The National Wildlife Federation states that "a plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction." This means native plants can be found naturally in regions where they evolved. In these regions, they have formed symbiotic, co-evolutionary relationships with native wildlife, who've lived with them for thousands of years.
The Ontario Invasive Plant Council provides eight reasons why native plants are essential:
- They promote biodiversity
- They replenish seed banks in wild spaces
- They support local wildlife with food and shelter
- They are low maintenance
- They are cheaper (in terms of maintenance)
- They are better for the planet
- They are better for humans
- They are beautiful
Other benefits include that native plants help attract and support a variety of pollinator species, reduce pesticide usage and watering needs, help maintain soil health, and outcompete invasive species.
Restoring native plant habitats is vital to protecting biodiversity, and by doing so on campus, we're able to help preserve and promote urban biodiversity.
What is a Seed Orchard?
Ryan Godfrey, Conservation Research Associate Specialist at WWF Canada, states that "A seed orchard is a place where plants of known wild origin are grown for the purpose of harvesting and distributing their seeds. These medium- to large-scale gardens are like living seedbanks with different plant species clustered and labelled for efficient seed collecting. Think of a densely planted veggie garden or farm field, but filled with blocks of native plants. Alone, a single seed orchard is not going to solve the problem. But many orchards can form a regional network, servicing multiple restoration projects within a given watershed or ecoregion." You can find Ryan's full article on how seed orchards fill a growing need for native plants on WWF's website.
Why Protect Pollinators?
Did you know that there are over 20,000 species of bees in the world, and over 900 in Canada alone? But bees are not our only pollinators. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes, including bees, flies, butterflies, moths, birds, and bats! These pollinators all depend on flowers for food and natural areas for habitat, but both flowers and habitats are becoming harder to find.
Pollinator Partnership states that "pollinators travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies in a vital interaction that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants – the very plants that
- bring us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts,
- ½ of the world’s oils, fibres and raw materials;
- prevent soil erosion,
- and increase carbon sequestration."
Listed below are three native pollinators you'll find highlighted on the signage at our native pollinator garden.