Public approval plus more wildlife: twin benefits of reduced mowing of amenity grass in a suburban public park in Saltdean, UK

Garbuzov, Mihail, Fensome, Katherine A and Ratnieks, Francis L W (2015) Public approval plus more wildlife: twin benefits of reduced mowing of amenity grass in a suburban public park in Saltdean, UK. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 8 (2). pp. 107-119. ISSN 1752-458X

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Abstract

1. We examined the effects of reduced mowing on wildflower bloom and flower-visiting insects in the Saltdean Oval, a 6 ha suburban public park in Saltdean, UK.
2. In 2012, a novel management regime was initiated in which approximately half the grass area was left uncut, with the plan being to mow it once per year in autumn. In spring 2013, we set up four blocks, with each block subdivided into four 30 × 5 m strips treated under different mowing regimes: (a) regular mowing every 2 weeks all spring and summer, (b) regular mowing until 2 June, (c) regular mowing until 5 July, and (d) no mowing.
3. The abundance of both flowers and flower-visiting insects increased significantly with reduced mowing, being ca. 3 and 5 times greater in (d) than (a), respectively, with (b) and (c) intermediate. Mowing intensity, however, had a weak effect on wildflower species richness, which was only lower in (a).
4. A 1 km bee, butterfly, and moth transect walk, 500 m within the long grass part of the park and 500 m within the short, recorded ca. 50× greater insect abundance in the long grass.
5. A questionnaire of public opinion found that 97% of park visitors favoured encouraging insects and wildflowers. In terms of enjoyment of the park, 26% said that it had increased, 64% said that it stayed the same, and 10% said that it decreased.
6. These results present an encouraging example of a potential win–win situation in urban land management change, where the interests of humans and wildlife are aligned, thereby making the goals of conservation easier to achieve.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology
Depositing User: Tom Gittoes
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2015 11:54
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2015 11:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/53372
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