Technology

Insects have proliferated in cities thanks to confinement

The rainiest spring of the century has coincided with the interruption of management activities in urban green areas, due to confinement and the slowdown due to the pandemic. The cocktail has awakened life in the cities.

For two months, the urban centers have been a natural laboratory where the fragments of nature that occupy verges and roundabouts, lawns and flowerbeds in parks and gardens and, even, tree pits have gone from intensive to minimal management.

As a result, we have found a exuberant nature with an exceptional flowering that has amplified the presence of pollinating insects (bees, bumblebees, butterflies and others) in cities.

“Selectively managing, or doing it in a less intense way, is a paradigm shift that reduces the need for water, pesticides and fertilizers in these spaces,” says Joan Pino , director of the Center for Ecological Research and Forest Applications (CREAF) and professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

According to the expert, mowing at different times, or doing it only in specific areas, would help keep flowery meadows longer. “We have to get used to seeing grasslands in cities that go from green to yellow, while plants flourish and fruit, because this allows many other organisms to proliferate,” he adds.

Review the management of green areas

Several CREAF projects are already demonstrating that it is necessary to review the management procedures, but above all the conception that citizens have of this nearby green. A well-kept and mowed grass at ground level is not always the best option, they emphasize from the center.

In the case of the city of Barcelona, ​​for example, the impact of this paradigm shift can be substantial if it is taken into account that the spaces surrounded by or adjacent to urban infrastructure or areas occupy more than a 16% of the surface of the metropolitan area and that a third of these spaces are green areas.

Furthermore, the researchers recall that this change in model is consistent with the climate and biodiversity emergency in which we find ourselves. Firstly, this model will reduce the energy expenditure involved in this management and, on the other, it will favor new spaces for declining pollinating insects worldwide.

Among the projects carried out by CREAF is that of converting road and highway verges, green areas of industrial estates and semi-urban areas into spaces full of flowers that are useful for the conservation of pollinating insects.

For this, the project promoted by the Department of Territory and Sustainability, aims to reduce the intensity and frequency of mowing in these areas and cover them with vegetation with certain species of melliferous plants.

As a first step, a resource guide has been generated to indicate which plant species are the most useful in each area to attract pollinators and how to create nesting substrates to favor the presence of wild bees.

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