Small Scale Urban Greening Creates Big Eco Change…

Large positive ecological changes of small urban greening study

A recent study conducted in Melbourne, Australia, has highlighted the remarkable benefits of urban greening initiatives, particularly their impact on biodiversity. The research found that increasing the diversity of native plants in a single urban green space led to a sevenfold increase in the number of insect species over three years.

The study, led by Dr. Luis Mata of the University of Melbourne and Cesar Australia, addressed a significant gap in the existing research on urban greening. Instead of conducting post-factum observational studies, the researchers actively introduced 12 indigenous plant species to a small 195 sq m plot in a densely urbanized area next to a major road.

Despite the site’s urban surroundings and limited access to green space, the results were remarkable. The researchers identified 94 insect species, with 91 of them being indigenous to the Australian state of Victoria. By the study’s conclusion, there were about 7.3 times more insect species than originally present, even though only nine plant species remained. Notably, there were substantial increases in “predator and parasitoid” insect species, crucial for controlling pest populations.

The findings have significant implications for urban planning and conservation efforts. The study provides critical evidence supporting future greening projects in urban environments and  provides a significant incentive to  policy and decision-making for protecting nature within cities. It also underscores the value of small, isolated green spaces and encourages gardeners to consider planting native plants, even in limited urban settings, to achieve positive ecological outcomes.

Professor Dieter Hochuli from the University of Sydney emphasized the importance of valuing the quality of habitat in addition to its quantity. The research challenges the notion that small urban green spaces have limited value for biodiversity and highlights the potential benefits of such spaces when managed with diversity in mind.

“We really need to do a better job valuing small, isolated green spaces,”

The study aligns with the goals set at the Cop15 summit, which stressed the importance of increasing access to green and blue spaces and adopting biodiversity-inclusive urban planning. Overall, this research reinforces the idea that even modest urban greening efforts can have a profound positive impact on local ecosystems and biodiversity.

You can read the original research here:

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Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner site street view
green space Melbourne
Large positive ecological changes of small urban greening actions
Diagram from the research paper showing “Bipartite quantitative networks of interactions (chords) between plant species (baseline: white boxes; greening [Year 3]: green) and insect clades (detritivores: orange; herbivores: yellow; predators: blue; parasitoids: purple). Chord width reflects the relative richness of insect species from the given clade represented in the interaction.”