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Pollinators Protection in San Francisco

The Challenge

Reports suggest systemic pesticides are a major cause of the decline in the bee population and other pollinator declines.​ San Francisco Environment hired WSC partner Amber Bieg and her team to research these reports further and recommend methods to combat the decline in bee population. The original goals for this program were:

1. Get people to use less pesticides on landscapes and gardens

2. Get people to choose plants that are “pollinator-friendly” by,

a. Choosing the right species, time, and place (consider year-round pollinator)

b. Sourcing from nurseries that supply “pollinator friendly” or low pesticide plants.


The Solution

Amber and her team designed a program to help increase awareness of pollinators issues, train the different stakeholders about solutions in general, and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in particular (an alternative to systemic pesticides). Based on the team’s research, and primarily interviews with local professional gardeners and nurseries, they recommended modifying the program goals to:

1. Increase awareness of the need to care for pollinators

2. Increase the use of IPM by professionals and home gardeners

3. Increase the availability of pesticide­ free (especially non systemic pesticide) ornamental plants for pollinators


The team conducted quantitative research to discover that landscape architects, landscapers, and professionals made most of the plant purchasing decisions in San Francisco, ​as opposed to individual residents. The team then spent a month conducting interviews with gardening and landscaping companies (44 total), and wholesale nurseries (8 total). The team’s research uncovered best practices from a few successful campaigns that achieved targeted behavior change.


Base on their research findings, Amber’s team developed four recommended program areas for SF Environment to implement.

  1. Creating partnerships with existing programs surrounding the same or similar issues.

  2. Working with partners to deliver the trainings for professionals.

  3. Developing a multi­lingual (Spanish, English, Cantonese, and Filipino), multimedia marketing campaign for stakeholders to pledge, “I protect the pollinators.”

  4. Developing a campaign to inform the public about IMP