Mowing grass in urban green areas – how often, and should such treatments be carried out at all? According to prof. dr. hab. Mirosław Ratkiewicz, a biologist from the University of Bialystok, not mowing or less frequent mowing of grass affects the mitigation of the effects of climate change and increases the resilience of the urban ecosystem. Among the specific benefits, the scientist listed water savings and greater biodiversity.
Professor Mirosław Ratkiewicz cited two main reasons, given as arguments in favor of mowing urban lawns. The first is that neatly maintained grass is supposed to be a “status symbol”. The second is traffic safety. The expert said that while you need to pay attention to safety considerations, “obsessed with mowing lawns” is not a good thing. We have green grass syndrome. Namely, we think that a nicely mowed lawn is a status symbol, the scientist said in an interview with PAP. A man with such a belief “will (the lawn) mow and then water it so that it does not dry out, and will use up resources.”
Lawn mowing? Just not for show
Ratkiewicz emphasized that mowing greens should be looked at in the context of the changing world and climate change. – In all areas where we realize that mowing is for show, that mowing is to prove something, we can consciously abandon this mowing – he advised. He admitted that own garden is a matter of individual choices, but urban areas should be looked at in terms of common benefits.
He explained that unmowed lawns, where plants grow in close proximity to each other, generate a lot of humidity, therefore they transpire less and more slowly (i.e. water contained in their above-ground parts evaporates more slowly – ed.), and the soil they cover does not dry out. – So not mowing means saving water, more moisture in these places of soil and air, and more life, and greater resistance to what is happening. This is simply mitigation of climate change – argued Ratkiewicz.
A lawn is not just grass
The biologist pointed out that lawns are not only grass, but also other plant species, such as clover, daisies or field vetch. They not only please the eye, but are also a source of nectar for insects, and thanks to the extensive root system, they better accumulate water and carbon dioxide, and also improve the structure of the soil.
He gave an example of mowing lawns in July or August, when it is dry. – The soil begins to dry out rapidly, the grass becomes very dry and the processes of soil decay are triggered. More and more pollen on hot days gets into the air, which causes allergies. Let’s add exhaust fumes to this and we just have hell on earth. Hell for allergy sufferers, hell for people with respiratory problems, really for everyone – he explained.
Nature wins, people win
That is why – as he said – it is worth promoting the resignation from mowing green areas.
– Here nature gains, here people also gain. (…) Cities are more resilient to climate change, and most citizens of Europe and the world live in cities. (…) In those places where the visibility of communication vehicles is not limited, nature should be allowed to develop undisturbed, encouraged Ratkiewicz. – All this mitigates temperature fluctuations, lowering air humidity on hot days, allows nature to develop next to us, to put it simply: it allows to implement the model of nature protection based on coexistence – he argued.
In his opinion, cities, if they are skilfully managed also in terms of nature protection, can become modern Noah’s arks, “where we will save not only ourselves, but also other species.” – I adhere to the principle: it is enough not to destroy, among other things, not to mow the grass when it is dry, not to build river valleys, not to cut down forests in cities, to leave leaves in the autumn, to let wild nature enter wherever conflicts with this wild nature potentially will not exist – calculated a scientist from the University of Bialystok.
As they do in Bialystok
For several years in Białystok, some green areas have not been mowed, and others are mowed less frequently. This year, there are 50 hectares of unmowed lawns in the city, which is several hectares more than last year, the city authorities informed.
In the opinion of the city, these activities are important for natural reasons. As explained by the director of the department of municipal management in the Bialystok city council, Andrzej Karolski, they affect air purification, moisture retention and soil protection. He also pointed out that native plant species spread in the greens, attracting not only insects, but also other small animals.
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