Travelogue – Southern France
Southern France is one of those parts of Europe where we can still enjoy the harmony between cities and the surrounding landscape.
In Villeneuve-lès-Avignonon, the river Rhone, officials are finding new ways to protect the surrounding nature with all its complexity by applying individualised care to green spaces.
The city’s authorities have adopted a differentiated management that includes the objectives of a weeding plan as well as water management and the tree heritage management plan.
The municipality started to determine weeding objectives, to classify and measure areas according to their risk and to propose alternative solutions to pesticides with an innovative centralized management system that uses new technologies. Detailed programming and remotely managing of the irrigation of one or more sites offers greater reactivity and adapts consumption to the real needs of the plant.
Arbomap, the tree heritage management software, lists all the trees present in the municipality and provides information on the health and the vitality of the trees.It also makes it possible to better understand the future of tree heritage, for example: development of diversity to enrich the landscape and reduce the risk of diseases.
This plan no longer considers the communal space as one whole, but as a set of individual spaces, each having their attendance, their visual, their use and therefore separate human and technical means are assigned to them.
Differentiated management will suggest that certain less frequented areas, with more fragile or ecologically valuable soils should be left to themselves, in some cases mowed or extensively grazed once every two years, while other spaces will be intensively mowed because of their functions (the extreme example was that of a football field) All these recommendations are made to preserve biodiversity and a greater diversity of landscapes. Differentiated management will also consider phytosanitary issues and allow a reduction in the use of pesticides. The aim of this approach is to move towards zero phytosanitary waste on the green spaces of the municipality.
This form of management aims to preserve the ecological interest of a green space and at the same time allows development in line with the use of the site. Many species of insects that were common became scarce (butterflies, bees, etc.).
Uurbanization leads to disappearance of their natural habitats such as hedgerows or the drying up of wetlands. The use of un-phytosanitary products further reinforces this degradation.
The insects are essential for the balance of our ecosystem as 80 % of flowering plants depend on them. Introducing ‘hotels for bugs’ we contribute to the fertility of the earth. These ´bug hotels´ are integrated in a landscaping where they offer refuge and accommodation for pollinating insects. The ‘hotels’ like those from the banks of the Rhone are made from recycled wood and can be easily placed in green spaces and gardens.
By constructing the hotels for insects we can all help our ecosystem and at the same time support professional beekeeping that has suffered since the mid-1990s from the massive disappearance of bee colonies.
Every collective, in every neighborhood, anywhere in the world can create safe spaces for these small creatures that deserve our help.
After a travelling through Provence for one week, what inspired me the most are
these simple constructions that welcome tiny visitors whose importance we often disregard. I was pleasantly surprised to discover many websites offering advice how to build a hotel for these special guests. For anyone that has a garden I suggest you do the same, and help our mother nature to safeguard the smallest of our friends.