Canadian landfill to be world’s largest pollinator park

Honeybee (Apis mellifera), photo by macropoulos via flickr

City planners in Guelph, Ontario have approved a master plan to transform a 200-acre decommissioned landfill into the world’s largest pollinator park.  The former Eastview Road Landfill, which operated as a municipal dump from 1961 to 2003, has been capped and outfitted with a methane capturing system that converts landfill gas into usable energy.  Filled land, which constitutes about half the site, will host some recreational amenities but primarily shrub and meadow plantings that provide habitat for pollinator species such as bees, butterflies, bats and birds.  These species are surprisingly vital to food production: pollination research suggests that three out of four flowering plants require animal pollinators in order to produce seed and fruit.

Pollinator populations have been in decline in recent years.  Honeybees, in particular, have experienced what beekeepers call “colony collapse disorder“; other causes for decline include pesticide misuse, light and air pollution, hive destruction and farming practices that destroy habitat.

In conjunction with non-profit group Pollination Guelph, the city is developing a plant palette with a wide enough range of blooming seasons to accommodate both early and late pollinators.  Other park amenities include toboggan runs, a trail network, demonstration gardens, basketball and volleyball courts, soccer and football fields, a natural ice rink and a playground.

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