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Vienna's green tram tracks are a haven for bees and plants

Vienna's green tram tracks are a haven for bees and plants

The city announced the development of a new project for the separate management of these green spaces as a place where insects and plants can flourish undisturbed

Vienna authorities announced the results of a study into the impact of the green lanes on the Wiener Linien on the biodiversity of the city. With this, the local government will be able to draft a management strategy for the spaces, turning them into ever-growing biodiversity havens in the future.

The research team from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences looked at the flora and fauna congregating in 25 green public transport spaces along the tracks of the subway as well as tram lines.

Wild bees feel at home by the tracks

Wiener Linien pays special attention to caring for the green spaces by the tracks, especially as they are a landmark feature of Vienna’s cityscape. They are also home to a large number of different animal and plant species. The scientific research team was able to detect around 378 plant species, as well as 25 kinds of grasshoppers, 40 types of butterflies (including seven endangered species) and 155 wild bee species in the study area of almost 3.7 hectares.

The green spaces near tram and subway lines in Vienna
are unique spaces for biodiversity.
Source: Alexander Zalokar via City of Vienna

Some of the more exciting species the researchers found include the bee Lasioglossum Costulatum, a specimen so rare, it has been sighted only twice in Austria before, with the last time being 48 years ago. Another one is the warmth-loving Italian locust, which, according to the project manager Bärbel Pachinger, feel particularly at home near the tram tracks.

According to Pachinger, the researchers have affectionately dubbed the grasshoppers 'Wiener Linien Schrecke' (Viennese track grasshoppers).

An individual strategy for the green spaces near the tracks

The main point behind the study was to examine the micro-climate conditions in every one of the green spaces separately, to determine what is the right type of care it needs to foster and strengthen biodiversity.

Some of their conclusions include the recommendation that the spaces are mowed less often. Another is introducing specific plant types to push out invasive species. The end goal of the maintenance plan for the Wiener Linen green spaces is to create a regular paradise for bees and other insects. 

Pachinger was quoted in a press release saying: "Wild bees are essential for climate protection because they make a major contribution to the pollination of a wide variety of plant species."

The Wiener Linien Managing Director, Günter Steinbauer added that the project is particularly close to heart for the city: "The diversity of insects has come under great pressure due to the lack of habitats and climate change. Improved maintenance of the Wiener Linien areas can make a significant contribution to helping our plants and animals in the city. The network of public transport should become the network of biodiversity".

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