The role of Green Infrastructure in mediating plant species diversity in calcareous grassland fragments in Southern Belgium

Lotje Vanhove
In deze studie wordt het positief effect vastgesteld van groene infrastructuur bij het restauratieproces van kalkgraslanden in zuidelijk België.

Laat het gras maar groeien

Biodivers paradijs
In Vlaanderen proberen we hardnekkig de klaver en paardenbloemen uit ons gazon te houden. In de Viroin Vallei (Namen) bestaat het ‘onkruid’ uit orchideeën en andere zeldzame bloemen. Maar wat als al deze kleine stukjes gazon, haagkanten en wegbermen samen een verschil maken voor de biodiversiteit aan planten in die regio?

In de Viroin Vallei zijn veel kalkgraslanden aanwezig. Deze graslanden zijn een walhalla voor kruidachtige planten in Europa. Vooral omdat deze gronden weinig bemest zijn, bevatten ze tot wel 30 of 40 plantensoorten per vierkante meter! Dit in tegenstelling tot onze landbouwgronden, die wel zwaar bemest zijn. De aanwezigheid van graslanden komt ook allerlei insectensoorten ten goede die worden aangetrokken door de kleurrijke vlaktes.

Versnippering
Maar deze paradijzen van biodiversiteit raken steeds meer geïsoleerd door versnippering van het landschap. De voornaamste oorzaken hiervoor zijn wegen, verkaveling en landbouw. De graslanden zijn als het ware omringd door grond bomvol bemesting, waar de zeldzame planten niet op kunnen groeien. Zo wordt de verspreiding van deze unieke plantensoorten in het landschap sterk bemoeilijkt. Een bom aan biodiversiteit, beperkt tot een eilandje. Een kleine speling van het lot, bijvoorbeeld een brand, is voldoende om deze zeldzame soorten voorgoed van de kaart te vegen.

Ik doorkruiste de Viroin Vallei om zowel oudere als gerestaureerde kalkgraslanden onder de loep te nemen. Ik zag dat er een verschil was in het aantal plantensoorten dat ze gemeen hadden. Op de oude graslanden waren meer soorten te vinden. Van de soorten die ze wél gemeen hadden, waren de aantallen hetzelfde. Dit wijst erop dat tal van plantensoorten er fysiek niet in slagen om die gerestaureerde graslanden te bereiken.

Groene infrastructuur
Maar wat hebben tuinen daarmee te maken? Dergelijke kleine stukjes grond kunnen kwalitatief genoeg zijn zodat zeldzame plantensoorten er zich kunnen nestelen. Veel van die plekken zoals tuinen kunnen samen een netwerk vormen. Zo kunnen planten die plekjes gebruiken als toevluchtsoorden en stapstenen om zich toch door het versnipperd landschap te verspreiden. Die kleine plaatsen die kansen bieden aan zeldzame planten worden ‘groene infrastructuur’ genoemd. Tot op vandaag is er weinig onderzoek of bewijs of deze groene infrastructuur de biodiversiteit en verbondenheid van de resterende kalkgraslanden ten goede komt. Daar wou ik verandering in brengen.

In mijn studie was het positief effect van een netwerk aan groene infrastructuur (een combinatie van tuinen, haagkanten, wegbermen en grasstroken) vooral te zien bij kalkgraslanden die na restauratie nog aan het herstellen waren. De extra input van plantensoorten vanuit de groene infrastructuur zorgt ervoor dat het herstellen sneller gaat. Het gerestaureerd kalkgrasland krijgt er sneller nieuwe plantensoorten bij. Het kan wel tot meer dan 100 jaar duren voor een kalkgrasland zijn top aan biodiversiteit bereikt! 

Hoe moet het verder?
In de volksmond luidt: “We weten pas wat we hebben als het weg is”. Nee, we weten nu al hoe belangrijk deze kalkgraslanden zijn. Deze vlaktes bieden veel ecosysteemdiensten aan die we vanzelfsprekend vinden zoals bestuiving, drinkwater, recreatie en genetische diversiteit van planten- en diersoorten. Als we deze kalkgraslanden en hun unieke flora willen bewaren, moet er meer groene infrastructuur komen in het landschap. Een goed excuus om het gras niet meer af te rijden. 

 

Bloeiend klokje

 

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master of Biology
Publicatiejaar
2019
Promotor(en)
Olivier Honnay
Kernwoorden
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