Urbanisation has been identified as a significant contributor to the decline of pollinators, however, properly managed green spaces in urban areas have the potential to reverse this trend by providing essential foraging and nesting habitats. In contrast to the USA and Western Europe where such pollinator-promoting interventions are well-established, Eastern Europe has been limited in research, and initiatives have been sparse.
Aiming to fill this gap, a recent Safeguard study investigates the impact of rare mowing and flower sowing on pollinators, floral resources, and vegetation attributes in urban areas of Hungary. The paper published in the journal Urban Ecosystems is co-authored by partners Gabriella Süle, Anikó Kovács-Hostyánszki and Viktor Szigeti from the Centre for Ecological Research (OK), and Miklós Sárospataki from the Regional Centre for Information and Scientific Development (RCISD).
Researchers conducted three case studies in Budapest and Veszprém, Hungary. Using an experimental approach, they compared treatment (extensively mown or sown areas) and control (intensively mown) site pairs. Data was collected over a season through five sampling occasions, providing a nuanced understanding of the temporal dynamics of these interventions.
The findings indicated that both rare mowing and annual flower-sowing interventions had a positive but relatively minor effect. The study revealed that less frequently mown public spaces had higher and greener vegetation with more flowers and pollinators compared to frequently mown areas. Meanwhile, sown flower patches provided vital food resources for pollinators in the second part of the season. Still, the annual soil scarification and re-sowing process during the spring left these areas less beneficial for pollinators until the sown species bloomed.
In order to establish urban ecosystems that can withstand the challenges posed by climate and environmental changes, the authors propose several key strategies. These encompass the utilisation of primarily native and mostly perennial seeds, combining intervention types, planning for the long-term, and avoiding management inaccuracies like unplanned mowing.
Fig. 1. from the article: The sampling sites within Hungary: rare mowing in Veszprém (A), rare mowing in Budapest (B) and flower sowing in Budapest (C). Numbers and letters represent site pairs. Black letters and numbers are the treatment sites, while grey letters and numbers are the control sites. The uncircled numbers represent the sites sown with Mix1, while the circled numbers are the sites sown with Mix2 in the C part of the Figure. Map data 2022 © OpenStreetMap