Forestry officials in Arkansas this week are calling attention to the role of a vulnerable part of the ecosystem—pollinators. Park Planner Steve Duzan said three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators and they have a big impact on Arkansas agriculture. This makes pollinators like bees, butterflies and a host of other species an important part of the economy.
Hendrix College biologist Matt Moran said while pollinators face 35 percent population declines nationally, Arkansas has fared better than most states because of a large amount of forested land.
“We have a lot of protected land, so we still retain a lot of our native plant cover. And, because of that, a lot of native species are also surviving. We’re doing a pretty decent job of maintaining that biodiversity,” he said.
But Moran questioned how much consumers know—and appreciate—about the crops they buy.
“When we buy a nice big, giant Arkansas watermelon in July,” he said, “I don’t think people realize that there was a little tiny bee that pollinated that flower a couple months before that.”
60% of Arkansas’s land remains forested, compared to 95% of forested land when Europeans began to settle in the state.