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ESF Commits to Bee-Friendly Campus

College joins institutions certified by Center for Food Safety under BEE Protective Campaign
4/6/2017

Above: students on the no-mow hillside zone. Below: green roof on the ESF Gateway Center; all the plants are native species from eastern Lake Ontario dunes and alvar pavement barrens at the northeastern end of Lake Ontario.

Center for Food Safety (CFS) has congratulated ESF on becoming a designated pollinator-friendly campus by agreeing to avoid the use of bee-toxic pesticides. This recognition comes from the BEE Protective Campaign, a program led by Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides which aims to protect bees and other pollinators from harmful pesticides like neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to have severe impacts on bee populations.

"At ESF, we are committed to biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. Avoiding pesticides that reduce pollinator populations and maintaining pollinator-friendly plants on our campus are consistent with ESF values, as is joining the BEE Protective Campaign," said ESF President Quentin Wheeler.

ESF is the first State University of New York campus to resolve to be a BEE Protective campus.

"We are so excited to see ESF join our campaign with a committed effort to protect pollinators," said Larissa Walker, pollinator program director at Center for Food Safety. "By officially pledging to continue to keep bee-toxic pesticides off campus, ESF sets a tremendous example for schools within the SUNY network, and others around the country on how to take proactive steps to protect pollinators. We applaud ESF's initiative and look forward to seeing BEE Protective implemented on the campus."

One in every three bites of food depends on bees for pollination, and the annual value of pollination services worldwide is estimated at over $125 billion. In the United States, pollination contributes $20 billion to $30 billion in agricultural production annually. Pesticides can have acute and chronic effects on honey bees and other pollinators, and are considered a major factor in bee population declines and poor health. Numerous cities, municipalities, campuses and other institutions across the U.S. have taken action to restrict and reduce the use of pesticides in order to protect pollinators.

Joining the BEE Protective Campaign aligns with ESF's mission to "advance knowledge and skills to promote the leadership necessary for the stewardship of both the natural and designed environments." The campus has already taken many steps to engage students and the community in education and protection of the environment, including pollinator habitats. All new plantings across the campus are plants native to the Northeast - which help ensure a high-functioning ecosystem. The 17-acre campus has two "no-mow" zones with native plants and wildflowers that help support healthy pollinator populations. One site is an 8,000-square-foot plot on a hillside that is regularly used as an outdoor classroom for students and visitors from local grade schools, high schools and the community. The second site is a 5,000-square-foot plot still in development outside Bray Hall, the campus administration building.

Chuck Carpenter, supervisor of grounds for the college and co-advisor of the Green Campus Initiative student group, said up to half an acre of the main campus is devoted to free-growing pollinator habitat.

BEE Protective is a national campaign established by Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides, and works with municipalities, campuses, and homeowners to adopt policies that protect pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides.