(1/2) Wildflower Budapest 2021 programme: results and experiences of the first year

Gergana Karaboycheva | 03/06/2022 09:51:25 | article

An article presenting the "Wildflower Budapest 2021" project and its first-year results was recently published on the website of the Municipality of Budapest. The research group of Safeguard partner Dr. András Báldi of the Centre for Ecological Research (OK) collaborated in the programme.

See the article (in English) below:

Wildflower Budapest 2021 programme: results and experiences of the first year

An important goal of the Municipality of Budapest's green developments is to increase the natural habitats of flora and fauna. New nature conservation areas are being designated, new tree protection and planting methods are being introduced, and the Wildflower Budapest programme is another element of this. The first year has already produced important results and lessons that can be included in further development, аs well as a number of monitoring results and the appearance of protected plants at three sites.
The biodiversity of urban green spaces has to be increased – this way we can help pollinators that are in an increasingly worrying situation. Just a few figures: 9% of bee and butterfly species in Europe are endangered, 37% of bee species and 31% of butterfly species are in decline, 30% of bumblebees are endangered and 4 species have become extinct in Central Europe in the last 140 years.  However, if we approach the issue from a different angle, for example, the climate crisis, wildflower meadows are still a win-win situation: if we let the plant species in their natural environment (in a wildflower meadow) to survive, they will adapt more easily to environmental changes than in a frequently mown lawn.
In addition to the aesthetic and environmental benefits, wildflower meadows are becoming increasingly popular in private gardens for financial reasons, as they are much cheaper and less water-intensive to maintain than a lawn. The scale of the problem is illustrated by the recent news that in Las Vegas approx. 4000 hectares of grass / irrigated lawns is to be removed in order to combat water scarcity. 
22 "insect-friendly" green spaces have been defined in the capital's parks and green strips in 2021, covering a total area of more than 28 hectares, as part of the programme. In the designation process, the experts looked for more secluded park areas, unfrequented or hardly frequented by humans, roadsides, and central reservations. An extensive grassland management programme has been introduced - instead of 8-10 mowing per year, only 1-2 mowing are done - giving plants time to flower, bear fruit and disperse.
During the programme a number of issues had to be and will have to be addressed. What is the impact of less frequent mowing in urban parks on vegetation, floral resources, and pollinators? What differences can be seen between different sites? What is the optimal site for wildflower meadows? Which sites work/don’t work and why? How does the composition of plant communities and pollinator abundance change over the years?
From the very beginning, the programme has been carried out in collaboration with the Centre for Ecological Research of Eötvös Loránd Research Network, in order to get a professionally credible picture of the new grassland management method. It is a useful opportunity for researchers to study pollinators, which could be important for stopping the decline of insect species. To get a more accurate picture, the experts selected 10 control plots that were comparable to a wildflower meadow.
For the botanical sampling, a complete species list has been surveyed at all sites. A survey was conducted by recording species in several designated quadrats; the insects present and flying over have been monitored at several points. 

In this follow-up piece, you can find a summary of the experiences and the important conclusions drawn after the first year.

Photo: Wildflower Budapest - Species richness in paired fields: bee pastures (unmown) and control areas (mown) 

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This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101003476.

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