Saturday, August 27, 2005

Power transmission line corridors as wildlife sanctuaries

Are (U.S.) power distribution companies about to find a way to re-spin their allegedly-cancer-causing transmission lines as wildlife sanctuaries? Apparently some companies have recently switched from using non-selective herbicides in these corridors (to stop large shrubs and trees growing to the point where they damage equipment) to using more selective ones and simply removing tall vegetation after it's appeared, but before it threatens equipment. An astonishing affect on bee populations has been observed:
The statistics showed that the bees collected in the power line scrubs were more diverse than those in the grassy fields
...
The power line scrubs tended to have rarer species and more bee-parasite species, which is normally an indication of a healthy bee community, she says.
Bees may seem like a pretty small part of Earth's ecosystem (and they are), but there are more than 20,000 species of them and, of course, they are major pollinators of plants (second only to the wind, according to the article). Apparently there are more than 5 million acres (2 million hectares) under distribution lines in the U.S.. Few national parks in the U.S. (or anywhere else) are that large. If power distribution companies can be convinced to adopt conservation-oriented policies in the management of these areas, then a substantial envioronmental win is in the offing. That, and some truly awful corporate double-speak next time a cluster of cancer sufferers is observed near power lines.