August 12, 2020

A rare opportunity to save the world has arrived

The isolation of coronavirus has caused nature to blossom. Pollution from cars and factories is reducing, animals are returning to habitats that have become overcrowded by humans and now it appears wildflowers are event set to return.

According to the conservation group Plantlife the coronavirus may be having a positive impact on our wildflowers. Usually public and private lawns are kept in pristine condition yet with the coronavirus everyone has been forced to stay at home. People are still able to cut their private lawns and are doing so with more zeal than ever but public grass areas are being left to grow. 

Those who usually tend to private lawns are either being redirected to more essential tasks or are being asked to stay home. This has caused public lawns and other areas with wildflowers to grow. 

It is coming at a time when public opinion is changing. In the past, a public area that looked in anyway untidy would receive countless complaints from the public. People used to argue that overgrown grass areas could not be used for sports and could lead to an injury. Now people are starting to recognize the beauty of an overgrown area and the important role it can play in biodiversity.

One of the most important areas for wildflowers is the long strips of grass beside the public roads. Once these areas were covered in meadows but they have since been repurposed as farmland, residential homes, or industrial space. Now all that remains is the small strip on either side of the road. It is estimated that these areas account for 45% of the country’s total flora and contribute over 700 wildflower species. 

However, to be fair to the UK government they are exceptionally punctual with their council duties. The flowers have barely sprouted in springtime before the roadside trimmers appear and take them down. While it makes our countryside look neat and tidy it is causing our wildflower population to disappear. This spring has been different. The trimmers have not appeared and the wildflowers are showing extravagant colors on the side of the road. This is great news for the bees. 

Bee populations are known to be quite unstable and while there are still around 100 million domesticated hives in the world today populations can change drastically. In the UK bee populations have fallen by one third with many species under threat of extinction. Some of this is due to bees not being in their natural habitat and having been introduced to an area. It is normal for these bees to die out and be replaced. However wild bees are dying too and it is the absence of wildflowers that is a leading cause.

The importance of bees is now well documented. If bees were wiped off the face of the earth we would lose so many of our fruits and vegetables that it would be incredibly difficult to feed our populations. Some estimates suggest that 91% of the food that humans eat are in existence thanks to bees. The end of bees likely wouldn’t be the end of humanity but it would be the end of a rich and varied diet. We would have to put up with a lot of incredibly boring meals if bees left us.

Plantlife hopes that as the wildflowers return to the roadside this spring, people fall in love with them. They feel that if people get a chance to see the wildflowers in full bloom they will let councils know that they are a good thing and perhaps governments will change their approach to the roadside and public lawn maintenance. If you love the wildflowers in your area, let your local council know that you want them to stay.