Have you noticed more insects flying around you when you leave the house? It has an explanation. The rainiest spring we are experiencing and the period of confinement that has interrupted the management of urban green areas have resulted in an exuberant nature in cities with the highest presence of insects, especially pollinators.
The rainiest spring of the century has coincided with the interruption of the management activities of urban green areas, due to the confinement and slowdown due to the pandemic. The cocktail has awakened life in cities.
For two months, urban centers have been a natural laboratory where the fragments of nature that occupy shoulders 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 an exuberant nature with an exceptional flowering that has amplified the presence of pollinating insects (bees, bumblebees, butterflies and others) in cities.
"Managing selectively, or doing it in a less intense way, is a paradigm shift that reduces the need for water, pesticides and fertilizers in these spaces", comments Joan Pino, director of the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry 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 the meadows in bloom for longer. "We have to get used to seeing grasslands within cities that go from green to yellow, while plants flourish and bear fruit, because this allows many other organisms to proliferate," he adds.
Review the management of green areas
Several CREAF projects are already showing that it is necessary to review management procedures, but above all the conception that citizens have of this nearby green. A well-groomed lawn 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 one takes into account that the spaces surrounded by infrastructures or urban areas, or adjacent to them, occupy more than 16% of the surface of the metropolitan area and that a third of these spaces are green areas.
In addition, the researchers recall that this change in model is consistent with the climate and biodiversity emergency in which we find ourselves. In the first place, this model will reduce the energy expenditure involved in this management and, on the other, it will favor new spaces for pollinating insects in decline throughout the world.
Among the projects carried out by CREAF is to convert 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.
To do this, the project promoted by the Department of Territory and Sustainability, proposes reducing the intensity and frequency of mowing in these spaces and covering them with vegetation with certain species of honey plants.
As a first step, a guide with resources 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.