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Key Objective: 4.2.2 Increase Pollinator-Friendly Areas
The iCAP 2020, objective 4.2.2 is: “Increase the number of on-the ground pollinator-friendly landscaping areas on campus by 50% from the FY19 baseline by April 2024.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is F&S. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for Increase Pollinator-Friendly Areas.
As of FY19, campus supports 26 ground-level pollinator-friendly landscaping areas. These are documented on the Pollinator Supportive Landscape Map, which is updated each spring prior to Earth Month celebrations. By April 2024, we plan to increase this number by 50%, resulting in at least 39 ground-level pollinator-supportive areas. Green roofs on campus buildings support pollinators as well.
Maintain Bee Campus USA status
By maintaining Bee Campus USA status, we will foster a pollinator-friendly environment (which is not exclusive to bees). These efforts will also support sustainable food production, native plant propagation, awareness of pollinator-friendly best practices, and viable habitat creation for creatures dependent on pollinators for survival — including humans!
Enhancing low-mow zones
In 2010, F&S established low-mow zones to support pollinators and decrease maintenance costs. Cutting low-mow zones intermittently lessens seed production from weeds and non-native plants, an essential process for preserving native perennial biodiversity and minimizing invasive species. Currently, we have 81.8 acres of low-mow land and 5.7 acres of prairie plantings on university property. We intend to convert a portion of the low-mow acreage into prairie or meadow with a focus on pollinator support and native plantings.
Student participation is necessary to increase pollinator-friendly areas on campus. In addition to the students involved with Bee Campus USA, there are several Registered Student Organizations (RSO) dedicated to this effort.
Red Bison is one RSO that works on ecosystem restoration projects. They currently help manage two active restoration sites on campus: the Florida and Orchard Prairie, which is a 2.8-acre tallgrass prairie, and the South Arboretum Woods (SAW), which is becoming a mixture of prairie, oak savanna, and oak-hickory woodland. Pollinators, especially migrating monarchs, frequent these sites.
Additionally, From the Ground Up is an RSO that focuses on student-led sustainability projects. In fall 2019, From the Ground Up received approval to work on 3.9 acres of a previously designated low-mow zone near Orchard Downs Housing Facility. The RSO plans to transform this plot into a pollinator-friendly native Illinois flower garden. From the Ground Up also started the Foreign Languages Building Garden Renovation Project in early 2020 with support from the Student Sustainability Committee to plant native wildflowers, pollinator-supportive plants, and possibly bird and bee habitats. This group raises awareness of modern threats to pollinator populations and has recently added an education component to their mission. Members will teach lessons and facilitate conversations about sustainability and landscape health in Champaign and Urbana public schools.