“More Than Weeds” is a project aimed at changing our perception of urban plants growing on walls, pavement or tree pits.
Inspired by the “Sauvages de ma rue” (“Wild plants of my street”) initiative created in France in 2001 by the French Natural History Museum and the botanical organisation Telabotanica, I am hoping to encourage the recording of urban flora through guided walks, social media and other communications, exhibitions and the publication of identification guides.
I would also like to encourage local authorities to embrace urban biodiversity and learn how to live with plants growing on pavements, gutters, on walls or in tree pits.
In France, since the 1st January 2017, the use of pesticides in public spaces is forbidden (except in cemeteries and sports grounds). The so-called “Labbé Law” or “Zérophyto” (for zero phytosanitary products) has forced local authorities to find alternative weeding solutions to the popular glyphosate (Roundup). Since then, many villages, small towns and cities have decided to embrace weed growth, rather than try to control every single “weed”.
Some councils are even going a step further, and encouraging residents to sow native annual plants in pavement cracks and along walls. How inspiring is that?
The “Sauvages de ma rue” project has been hugely successful. Since its start in 2011:
- Over 100,000 records have been sent by local groups, covering 340 species
- 400 recorders are involved regularly through guided walks or as individuals
- the free online course “Herbes Folles” (“Wild weeds”) had 10,000 participants, 2,200 completed it
- Data collected by the project has been using by scientists for research on urban species richness, pollination ecology and climate change
In the UK, I am hoping to establish similar partnerships with botanical and nature conservation organisations, as well as local authorities and community groups.
If you’d like to offer a little help for the project, or if you belong to an organisation, and are interested in collaborating with me, please visit this dedicated page: Support the project