Talk IPBES key findings on the opportunities of rightofway infrastructures for pollinators

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) adopted its first assessment in 2016, focusing on pollinators, pollination and food production. This critical analysis including all existing knowledge from natural and social science, as well as indigenous and local knowledge, bears on the values of pollinators and pollination, their status and trends, and management and policy options to address the drivers impacting pollinators. The assessment deals, among others, with the management of right-of-way infrastructures, for the benefit of pollinators. It looks at the effectiveness of several measures that can be taken.

IPBES highlights the increasing opportunities offered by the management of right-of-way infrastructures for pollinators’ habitats. Studies in Europe and North America showed that butterflies and bees benefit from the presence of native plants on roadsides. Road verges can also contribute to maintain genetic connectivity at the landscape scale for some pollinated plants. According to a study, railway embankments have a positive impact on bee species richness and abundance, although a negative one on butterfly populations. Another study suggests that a greater butterfly species richness and abundance, including red-listed species, occur within power-line corridors, compared to road verges, clear-cuts or pastures.

However, the IPBES assessment points out some risks which need to be considered when managing right-of-way infrastructures for pollinators: for example, cars could disturb or kill foragers by the road. There is also a risk of contamination of bee products, as a study found metal in the pollen, nectar and honey collected by bees from roadside plants.

The IPBES assessment also includes good practices adopted when managing right-of-way infrastructures for pollinators, such as collaboration with engineers working on the infrastructures. Some ideas for funding such management options are identified: for example an American program is funding the establishment of native vegetation on roadsides through road use tax.

IPBES experts conclude that, despite some risks which need to be taken into account when managing the right-of-way infrastructures, road verges, power lines and railway embankments have a great potential to support pollinators if they are managed to provide appropriate flowering and nesting resources.

IPBES, Biodiversity, Habitat, Management, Vegetation, Infrastructure