Let life thrive!
Since 2008, the Kirchberg Fund has been committed to pursuing an ecological approach when maintaining green spaces, by renouncing the use of herbicides entirely in public spaces and by abandoning chemical fertilizers.
The Fund favours heavy, but not frequent, mowing (one or two times a year, at the most) to allow plants to complete their natural cycles, from germination of the seeds through to flowering and decomposition. To maintain the parks and protected areas of national interest, the Fund has adopted itinerant grazing twice a year, with flocks ranging from 300 to 400 sheep.
When constructing planting strips and surfaces that pedestrians will walk over, the Fund uses thin substrates which leave these surfaces permeable, thus allowing the vegetation to take hold there. Naturally poor in nutrients, these substrates require planting with vegetation associated with dry, poor environments, which are often rich in flowers.
A mix of seeds from local species and appropriate to the specific site conditions (soil composition, local climate, drought, road traffic, footfall) is studied for each site. This vegetation, which might look to be “filled with weeds” or which might seem to be neglected to the uninformed observer, primarily reflects a mix of wild plants that are perfectly adapted to this environment. It is also common to find plants there which have medicinal properties.
In collaboration with the Nature and Forest Agency (Administration de la nature et des forêts, ANF), the Fund has set up biological monitoring in two areas – the planting strips on Avenue John F. Kennedy and the bus stop for the European School – with a view to measuring the positive impact of the kind of development and environmental maintenance it has been practising for around ten years.
In ten years, the number of species has more than doubled
The monitoring has revealed that, following the stop to pesticide spraying in 2008, six threatened or rare plant species have spontaneously become established in the planting strips on Avenue John F. Kennedy. Generally, a substantial increase in the number of plant species has been identified there: from 69 species in 2009 to 170 species in 2018. On the bus platforms, constructed using natural stone paving with no mortared joints and with a thin substrate, vegetation adapted to footfall, to dry, hot and rocky sites has spontaneously become established there (30 species documented, of which three are threatened, at risk, protected and/or rare).
The ANF, in collaboration with the Fund, has published a 24-page brochure following the bio-monitoring. It provides details of the objectives and the means that the actors have employed to promote biodiversity in an urban environment, and summarises the results of the monitoring.