The role of city gardens in pollinator conservation

The role of city gardens in pollinator conservation
Lavender, one of the important plant species for pollinators in urban areas. © iStock/lenanet

A new research collaboration has revealed that city gardens can play an important role in pollinator conservation.

The research, carried out by scientists at the Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Reading in collaboration with Cardiff University and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), found that city gardens have an important role in pollinator conservation. The scientists also found that lavender, borage, dandelions, thistles, brambles and buttercups are important garden plants that pollinators use as food sources.

Urban land use and pollinator conservation

Dr Katherine Baldock, NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow and lead researcher from the School of Biological Sciences and the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol, said: “By understanding the impact of each urban land use on pollinators, whether it’s gardens, allotments, road verges or parks, we can make cities better places for pollinators.”

The main recommendations from the study are:

    • ” Public greenspaces should be managed so they benefit pollinators. Parks, road verges and other public greenspaces make up around a third of cities but have fewer pollinator visits and resources for pollinators than other land uses. The research shows that increasing the numbers of flowers, for example by mowing less often, can help urban pollinators.
    • Gardens make up a quarter to a third of the area of UK cities and better garden management in new developments and existing gardens is likely to benefit pollinator conservation.
    • City planners and local councils should increase the number of allotments (community gardens) in towns and cities. Allotments (community gardens) are good for pollinators as well as people and increasing their area even by a small amount could have a large positive effect on pollinators.”

Jane Memmott, Professor of Ecology at the University of Bristol and who leads the Urban Pollinators Project, added:”Rather than simply asking about how management affects the number of pollinator species or their abundance, we also ask how potential strategies affect the ability of pollinators to cope with species losses associated with environmental change. A good management intervention leads to more sustainable communities.”

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