The Dutch are known for their green fingers (tulips, anyone?), but this summer they are taking their flower obsession a step further as the city of Utrecht installs green roofs on its 316 bus stops.
Aside from looking quite pretty, the initiative is designed to attract biodiversity. The roofs are mostly comprised of sedum plants, those that are not only conveniently hardy and low maintenance but good for improving air quality and attracting pollinators.
Pollinators – a group of animals that includes bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flower beetles, and ants – have been having a hard time of it lately, with what some people are referring to as the "insect apocalypse".
This follows reams of data that suggests the world's insect population is in decline. In 2017, for example, research conducted by German researchers revealed a 76 percent drop in total flying insect biomass in 27 years. The study was limited to 63 protection areas in Germany, but the general gist of it appears to be backed up by other research.
Take, for instance, a meta-study published in February 2019, which reported that as many as 40 percent of the world's insects are at risk of extinction within the upcoming decades – and called it a "catastrophic collapse".
Last year saw the biggest honey bee die-off in the US in recorded history. A jaw-dropping 37 percent of managed honey bee colonies disappeared between October 2018 and April 2019. Meanwhile, the current administration is overturning policy designed to keep bee-killing pesticides in check.
Insects, like honey bees, face a myriad of threats but climate change, chemical use, intensive agriculture, and urbanization all play their part. This is bad news for us: Close to 90 percent of wild flowering plants depend on some form of animal pollination and one-third of food is pollination-dependent.
To boost their eco credentials even further, Utrecht’s green roofs are being cared for by workers driving electric vehicles. Meanwhile, each one of the bus stops has been equipped with LED lights and benches made of bamboo.
Officials in the Dutch city are getting serious about the environment, offering a scheme that lets residents apply for funding to transform their houses with their very own green roofs. Utrecht has also announced plans to launch 55 brand new electric buses – run on power generated from Dutch windmills, no less – by 2020, with the intention that public transportation will be powered by 100 percent clean energy by 2028.
Elsewhere, other cities are introducing their own green initiatives, from China’s smog-busting vertical gardens to London’s 11-kilometer (7-mile) “bee corridor” designed to saturate the city’s outer edges with pollinator-attracting wildflowers.
[H/T: The Independent]