Global pollinator populations – such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, and other similar animals – are in decline for many reasons, one of which includes habitat loss. This cause is particularly evident in Atlanta. During the housing boom of the 1990s and early 2000s, the greater Atlanta area lost 55 acres of green space each and every day. Over 20 years approximately 400,000 acres of pollinator-friendly native green space and tree canopy have been lost while sidewalks, parking lots, rooftops, and other impervious surfaces expanded by 200,000 acres. In 2009, to help tackle this growing challenge and the decline in pollinators, the Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership (GAPP) was created.
Goals of the GAPP are to encourage restoration, development, and registration of pollinator habitat through an ecologically-significant, large-scale approach. Consequently, the project focuses on nearly 1.2 million acres in and surrounding the city of Atlanta, expansive potential pollinator habitat that includes all major public lands and thousands of individual residences. Efforts focus on restoring pollinator-friendly habitat and educating the public through formal and informal programs. More specifically, key components of the GAPP include supporting native species, rescuing native plants from construction sites, controlling invasive species, establishing community gardens, citizen science projects, conservation, education, research, and website development. The GAPP website, in particular, is critical to our online garden registration and mapping to track garden establishment, assess habitat development trends, and to provide online educational materials and a newsletter.
Several organizations have expressed interest in using the GAPP as a model for their citizen-based pollinator conservation efforts. For example, the Cincinnati Nature Center will use the GAPP model for pollinator conservation in metropolitan Cincinnati, Ohio, through their “Milkweeds to Monarchs” initiative. Funding for the GAPP is limited, so synergy through partnerships is essential.