Nature conservation: three years after the “Save the bees” referendum: Swabian cities should thrive

Three years after the “Save the bees” referendum, Swabia sends a “Bloom Pact Advisor” to cities and communities to make them more insect friendly. How can it be successful.

If a wild bee were looking for a home in this country, they would have a large selection of man-made homes to move to. From simple to elegant, from a four-storey apartment, from S to XXL – so-called insect hotels are now available in all models and price ranges. The problem: “A lot of them look good, but they’re not particularly interesting to insects,” says Thomas Stahl. Sometimes less is more, he explains: “Just drill a few holes in the dead wood and place them in a suitable place – it’s thick enough.”

Stahl should know, as he is partly responsible for the fact that bees and others feel more comfortable here and that the dramatic global extinction of species (including insects) is coming to an end. For almost three months he has been an advisor to the Swabian government’s so-called flowering pact. His job: to support cities and municipalities with advice and actions when it comes to making green spaces more insect-friendly. 30 Swabian municipalities have applied as part of a competition for his services and a half-million euro flat grant from the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment – 14 of them are currently being selected.

Conserving nature carries with it the potential for conflict

Probably also pushed by the “Save the bees” referendum three years ago, the issues of nature conservation and compatibility with insects have recently received a boost, says Maria Bader, also from the Swabian government. Many projects have been initiated by individuals, clubs or associations, many of them in rural areas. With the “Blossoming Municipalities” program, the goal is now to specifically enter communities and cities and transform public spaces into diverse and high-quality habitats for indigenous insects.

“Save the bees” – this is the title of the most successful Bavarian referendum of all time.

Some municipalities have already started on their own, others lack personnel, money, knowledge. And here comes Thomas stole in the game. “It’s often the small measures that can make a big difference,” explains the Bloompakt consultant. Lawns, roadsides, or other green streaks should be mowed less frequently, perennial, insect-friendly flowering plants should be sown, and nesting sites such as sand or the aforementioned deadwood mounds should be created.

Furthermore, the corresponding areas should not only bloom in spring, but be suitable for insects all year round, although this can lead to conflicts with citizens, as Maria Bader knows: “In winter, many areas are often mowed completely for reasons practical. But animals also need places to overwinter. It would therefore be better to just leave the grass, herbs or flowers standing and die in some places. It may not look so nice and clean, but then it has to be explained to the citizens. ” .

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In general, the issue of cleanliness and order is broad and potentially conflicting. Especially in urban centers, where cigarette butts, coffee mugs or plastic bags tend to end up on the ground and are therefore difficult to remove from the blooming green stripes. At the same time, there are some people who perceive wild green spaces as unkempt. According to Maria Bader, this is also true here: “Education and public relations work is very important”.

Small green spaces of great impact

The question arises: what role do green spaces in urban centers play in – to put it bluntly – in rescuing bees? A very big one, Bader and Stahl say in unison: “We can get an incredible amount there.” First, because there is a surprisingly high level of biodiversity in cities – partly due to the higher temperatures – that needs to be protected. Train stations, for example, are “a true insect paradise” thanks to their diverse soil structures and vegetation, says Bader.

On the other hand, because in the municipalities there are many small green spaces, but together they could make a great contribution. Especially since insects often don’t need much to be happy – sometimes a dead branch, an old mound of moles, or an unmowed lawn is enough to get past the expensive insect hotel.

Internet advice: The Bavarian Blossom Pact of the Ministry of the Environment includes not only the “Communes in Bloom” but also the “Blooming Farms”, “Gardens in Bloom” and “Land in Bloom”. Information on this and tips and tricks on how gardens, balconies, lawns or business premises can be made safe from insects.

We want to know what you think: the Augsburger Allgemeine therefore collaborates with the opinion research institute Civey. Read here what representative surveys are about and why you should register.

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