HomeProgressIn praise of tall grass for biodiversity and pollinating insects. Open letter

In praise of tall grass for biodiversity and pollinating insects. Open letter

Tall grass is useful for preserving biodiversity and favoring pollinating insects, bees (in primis). According to other points of view, it can instead express a sign of degradation and/or danger for citizens. The debate is now underway in the Municipality of Turin, where the group leader of Sinistra Ecologista, Alice Ravinale, has proposed reducing the mowing of the grass in the city's green areas.

The Metropolitan Pollinator Community, in an open letter (see attachment) also signed by Égalité, calls for more attention than what is already being done in other areas of Italy and in Europe. In addition to the establishment of a support body for the Turin Consulta which can bring the know-how necessary for the 'greenest green'. (1)

Tall grass for biodiversity, pollinators and temperature

Reduce mowing in green areas it has the function of protecting the soil from evaporation and saving water, so as to counteract the effects of the extraordinary heat and provide a more favorable environment also for pollinating insects. (2)

Voices against on the other hand they argue that this measure could lead to the degradation of the city's green areas, with possible risks of damage to people and animals (eg forasacks that can penetrate the skin and mucous membranes of dogs). (3)

Design with care

The Metropolitan Pollinator Association, without lingering in controversy, highlights the criteria to be followed to better manage public parks in compliance with the now unavoidable needs of health, the environment and pollinating insects.

The open letter recall

– the criteria indicated in the regulations for the development of urban green spaces (law 14 January 2013, n. 10. Rules for the development of urban green spaces) which set up the 'Committee for the development of public parks' and introduce the possibility of adopting measures aimed at promoting energy savings and efficiency, the absorption of fine particles and reducing the "summer heat island" effect,

– the 'guidelines' for the management of urban green areas and initial indications for sustainable planning' of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security (MASE, 2017). The chapter dedicated to the design of urban green refers precisely to the need to protect and increase local biodiversity, creating ideal environments for pollinating insects. Including the identification of areas compatible with reduced maintenance and with the introduction of 'wild meadows' or 'flower meadows'.

Municipalities friends of bees

The hypothesis to reconcile the use of public parks with the protection of pollinating insects is by no means new or bizarre.

'Unito (DISAFA) develops and enriches its own mapping of urban green, also making use of the data provided by melissopalynological analyses, making use of skills which, in terms of botanical species and botanical species of interest to pollinating insects, are a historical reference on the national territory', recall the metropolitan Pollinators.

The network of Municipalities friends of bees, founded in 2017, is owned by 213 Municipalities and is based on a handbook already proposed to the Turin administration. For the same purpose, the network of Pesticide Free Cities is operational, interconnected with the European Citizens' InitiativeLet's save the bees and the farmers', which has collected over a million signatures to curb the abuse of pesticides.

Successful experiences

The evolution of the management of public parks in an 'environmental' key, after decades of herbicides and overbuilding, is already a consolidated reality, in spite of the controversies of these days.

in Emilia-Romagna, the 'Progetto Api e Verde Ambientale' (established by CONAPI and the Centro Agricoltura Ambiente G. Nicoli) offers the dozens of participating Municipalities a technical-scientific support accompanied by publicity tools that include an information bulletin on the themes of bee protection and the management of public and private ornamental greenery, with a low environmental impact.

The urgency of addressing the matter it is reaffirmed in the ISPRA Report signed by the Metropolitan Pollinator Community, Slow Food, which addresses the issue of urban greenery and ecological transition and sustainability (350/2021).

Initiatives in the Turin area

The Turin areamoreover, for a few years now it has been hosting innovative solutions to support the redevelopment of the city's green heritage. With attention to also satisfy the needs of pollinating insects.

Such initiatives Spontaneous citizens and private entities compete through regional or European tenders to bring permanent solutions of an innovative environmental and social nature to the city, to the benefit of biodiversity (such as the Flower Shop Project).

Requests to public administrators

The signatories of the open letter they therefore ask the Municipality of Turin and the Environmental Department of the Piedmont Region for greater attention and inclusion, an openness to dialogue that considers the favorable experiences of public bodies that have already addressed these issues and the opportunity to join the aforementioned networks. It is therefore necessary:

– apply the criteria and pursue the minimum objectives described in the MASE guidelines,

– check and if necessary expand the database- green mapping, based on what has already been done by DISAFA, also in synergy with any other research projects,

– tolerate and insist on respecting the phenological phases of the grassland botanical species, guaranteeing optimal cuts. Therefore guarantee the scalarity and the trophic sources for the species of pollinating insects. Without neglecting any risks associated with the lesser usability of public spaces, where appropriate. In this regard, it is useful to inform and involve citizens directly and through bodies, committees, districts,

– activate a path that can include university and third sector skills and experience in the civic consultative bodies inherent in the management of urban green areas.


(1) ATTACHMENT, the letter from the Community of Metropolitan Pollinators

(2) Paul Varetto. The Municipality now defends the tall grass: don't cut it for biodiversity. The print.https://www.lastampa.it/torino/2023/07/18/news/comune_torino_difesa_erba_alta_biodiversita-12951741/

Marta Strinati

Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".

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