Small patches of pollinator-friendly planting can have an enormously positive impact on biodiversity, a study carried out by an international team of researchers has confirmed.
Experts from Lancaster University in Lancashire, Northwest England, Washington State University and Michigan State University in the US examined various sets of data to determine the effectiveness of wildflower planting and the effect of pollinator-friendly plots.
Lancaster University researcher Dr Philip Donkersley – who is an expert on invertebrate biology – and his three co-authors focused on comparably smaller rural projects as the vast majority of previous studies had investigated larger premises.
For their study entitled “A little does a lot: can small-scale planting for pollinators make a difference?”, the scientists conducted a meta-analysis of 31 research endeavours from the past 30 years.
Their findings reveal that plots of wildflowers of a size of less than 500 square metres produced a 1.4-fold increase in pollinator abundance compared to control plot figures.
The scientists then decided to carry out a field study at community farms in Washington State.
Within four years, the number of bees recorded at their 11 patches – which measured 30 square metres each and featured nesting spots and floral strips – soared from 1,360 to 3,550.
Dr Donkersley concluded: “This work shows that you don’t need to own a huge amount of farmland to benefit bees, and although we didn’t directly look at urban plots the results suggest that even people with small gardens who want to plant a wildflower strip can make a difference.”