The richness of an ecosystem is linked to its biodiversity. The more animals, insects, plants and decomposers that sustain an ecosystem, the more lines of defense an area has against changes. This simple premise is a problem for current models of human evolution, mainly because The expansion of cities and existing methods of food production. Two recently published independent studies, one by the University of Queensland and the other by the University of Cambridge, show how In both contexts the regeneration of small forest areas can help increase farm yields and reduce the “heat island” effect of cities, respectively.
I hope it rains coffee
The first study focused on coffee sectors, a multimillion-dollar business that sees demand for their product skyrocket every year around the world. because of this reason, Farmers need to find new ways to increase production and reduce costs. This way they would be able to keep the prices of this drink low for the masses to enjoy. Cost reduction in agriculture often comes from reducing maintenance and reducing the crop’s reliance on fertilizers and pesticides. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was conducted across Australian coffee regions and seems to have found a very simple solution to the problem: Plan carefully to include parts of the natural vegetation in the planting. The results show that this solution, although counter-intuitive, appears to increase both farmers’ profits and forest area over a 40-year period.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers divided the study area into a grid with more than 60,000 small plots and calculated coffee production, bee presence and the profitability of each section. He then calculated the returns of each plot for 5 and 40 years for different variables and got very interesting results. Considering 5-year benefits, prioritizing forest restoration was more cost-effective than agricultural land expansion, and after 40 years, a 20% increase in forest area could double the benefits of forest restoration. Even the loss of agricultural land can be taken into account.
A field in the city
Now that increasing productivity is not a relevant factor when it comes to city gardens, why would there be interest in increasing biodiversity in urban areas? Many interesting facts have been found in this regard in a study done by Dr. Cicely Marshall along with 3 students of Cambridge University. at english university Large green areas covered with grass that require maintenance, irrigation and fertilization. Wondering how the introduction of more biodiversity might affect these areas, the doctor sought a permit to build a small area with a meadow of wildflowers on campus to simulate the change in ecosystem. can be inspected.
The results, published in the journal Ecological Solutions & Evidence, explain The small wild grassland has triple the number of plants, spiders and other invertebrate species, including 14 species in conservation status. In addition, the biomass of these insects and arthropods was 25 times higher in the grassland, which affected other species, such as bats, whose activity increased threefold in that area compared to the rest of the lawn. But biodiversity was not the only winner, as Reduced maintenance and fertilizer requirement associated with mowing saved over a ton of CO₂ per hectare of land and increased sunlight reflectance by 25%, reducing the heat island effect.
These types of studies show the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems in strategic rural and urban areas. And it is that, sometimes, it is difficult to understand that we are a small part of a whole and that what benefits the health of the ecosystem, its impact on the pockets of those interested, on the public treasury and even That can happen on our own as well. Health
Don’t get it:
- The amount of insect biomass has been declining in recent years, so these studies offer some hope for tackling changes whose effects we do not know about, but do not signal well.
- Marshall, Cicely A, et al. “Urban Wildflower Meadow Planting for Biodiversity, Climate and Society: An Evaluation at King’s College, Cambridge.” Ecological Solutions and Evidence, Vol. 4, no. 2, 2023, https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12243.
- López-Cubilos S, McDonald-Madden E, Mayfield MM, Running RK (2023) Optimal restoration to pollination services increases forest cover while doubling agricultural profits. PLoS Biol 21(5): e3002107. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3002107