Opis

W zeszłym roku zostaliśmy wyróżnieni przez Ashoka w Polsce. Cały proces wyłaniania kandydatów był bardzo długi i wymagał sporego zaangażowania. Pozwolił jednak na usystematyzowanie wizji kolejnych lat naszej działalności oraz podsumować co udało się do tej pory osiągnąć.

Problem

Problem

Trawniki, będące uprawą monokulturową, zajmują 1,9% powierzchni kontynentalnych Stanów Zjednoczonych, będąc największą nawadnianą uprawą w kraju (NASA, 2015). Co więcej, największy udział w zanieczyszczaniu gleby mają nawozy wykorzystywane przy uprawie trawników, a utrzymywanie trawników powoduje więcej zanieczyszczeń niż trawa jest w stanie oczyścić. W innych krajach o umiarkowanym klimacie statystyki są bardzo podobne, 2,5% powierzchni Polski jest zmonopolizowane przez trawniki. Ponadto kosiarki z silnikami dwusuwowymi do trawy podczas 1 godziny pracy produkują tyle benzopirenów ile zwykły samochód przejeżdżając 3000 mill (niemal 5000 km).

Dominacja trawników w miastach nie wspiera ochrony bioróżnorodności. Trawniki uważane są za jedyną opcją dla zieleni miejskiej. W niektórych europejskich miastach, m.in. w Polsce, na Węgrzech i w Niemczech wymagane jest dbanie o trawniki pod groźbą grzywien. Obszary z wysoką trawą, albo z naturalną kompozycją różnych gatunków roślin także podlegają karom. Monokulurowe trawniki zostały nawet nazwane „zielonymi pustyniami”, bo są to obszary, na których rosną rośliny, ale tylko dwa lub trzy gatunki, nie mające nic wspólnego z naturalną bioróżnorodnością obecną przed ludzką ingerencją.

Różnorodność biologiczna w Europie nadal ulega erozji, powodując degradację ekosystemów. Pomimo ogromnych strat w różnorodności biologicznej nadal istnieje bardzo ograniczona świadomość wagi bioróżnorodności. W 2010 r. tylko 19% Polaków słyszało termin „różnorodność biologiczna – bioróżnorodność”. Z badań przeprowadzonych w 2015 r. wynika, że większość obywateli Unii Europejskiej słyszała pojęcie „bioróżnorodności”, ale mniej niż jedna trzecia rozumiała, co to oznacza, a tym samym znała rolę, jako bioróżnorodność odgrywa w ekosystemach.

Łąki kwietne wpływ – flower meadow impact

Wpływ pracy Fundacji jest widoczny w polskich miastach dla mieszkańców i odwiedzających, a także dla naukowców. Kilka owadów z Czerwonej księgi gatunków zagrożonych, publikowanej przez IUCN, zostało zaobserwowanych przez naukowców na dwóch łąkach w Warszawie, ich powrót jest bezpośrednio związany z powstaniem łąk kwietnych. Przeciw smogowa mieszanka nasion kwiatów łąkowych, stworzona przez Fundację Łąka jest w trakcie opatentowywania i stanowi istotną część strategii skalowania poza Polskę. Wraz z partnerami z Niemiec, Czech, Austrii, Hiszpanii i Szwajcarii

Anty-smogowa mieszanka nasion kwiatów łąkowych została wpisana w oficjalną strategię anty-smogową w Krakowie, w którym posadzono 100 tys. m2 łąk kwietnych. Fundacja przeszkoliła już 5000 osób (urzędników, przedstawicieli miejskiej zieleni, aktywistów) w zakładaniu i utrzymywaniu własnych łąk kwiatowych. Już 10 m2 (107ft2) łąki kwiatowej wystarczy do stworzenia bioróżnorodnego ekosystemu. Ponadto Fundacja stara się o zmiany lokalnego prawa w 8 gminach, promując sianie łąk kwiatowych zamiast trawników, co bezpośrednio przekłada się to na przekształcenie setek tysięcy metrów kwadratowych zieleni miejskiej.

Łąki kwietne idea

Będąc świadomym związku między różnorodnością biologiczną, a zdrowym ekosystemem dla ludzi, zwierząt i planety, Fundacja dąży do zwiększenia różnorodności biologicznej i przeciwdziałania dewastacji zasobów naturalnych poprzez urbanizację. Zamiast monokulturowych trawników, które nie pomagają w regulacji jakości powietrza, wody i gleby, dąży on do naturalnego rozwiązania tego problemu poprzez rozwój pięknych i różnorodnych biologicznie łąk w miastach. Co więcej, umożliwia on każdemu obywatelowi odtruwanie domu i miasta, poprzez łąki kwietne.

Zwracamy uwagę na naturalne walory dzikich łąk kwiatowych, które zwiększają różnorodność biologiczną i przeciwdziałają dewastacji zasobów naturalnych. Aby wymienić kilka cech łąk: do 300 gatunków owadów i zwierząt endemicznych dla regionu, potrzebują łąki jako źródła pożywienia i schronienia. Każda łąka jest mieszanką co najmniej 60 gatunków dzikich kwiatów i roślin, mającą wpływ m.in. na zapylacze i ptaki, jednocześnie stabilizując erozję gleby, ponieważ kwiaty mają do 25 razy głębsze korzenie niż trawniki. Ponadto łąka wymaga mniej wody niż trawniki, ale w przypadku np. powodzi może wchłonąć dwa razy więcej wody.

Łąki kwietne idea

Fundacja ma nie tylko pozytywny wpływ na środowisko i bioróżnorodność, ale także przemienia miejskie przestrzenie, zmieniając krajobraz z zielonych pustyń na dzikie, biologiczne łąki kwiatowe. Co więcej, poprzez edukację i posiadanie

wszystkiego co niezbędne do samodzielnego uprawiania łąk kwiatowych, Fundacja wzmacnia innych do przeciwdziałania powodowanym przez człowieka zmianom środowiska.

Chcemy by łąki kwietne były prawdziwą i zrównoważoną alternatywą dla trawników, dlatego skonstruował on model, który zawiera 5 kluczowych elementów: edukacją, rzecznictwo, banki nasion kwiatów łąkowych, usługi i badania. Fundacja Łąka działa nieprzerwanie na wszystkich poziomach, uwzględniając sezonowość wegetacji i zbiorów nasion.

Maciej Podyma jeden  z założycieli Fundacji dorastał w rodzinie, w której miłość do natury była bardzo obecna. Prawie każdy w jego rodzinie kształcił się w dziedzinie nauk przyrodniczych. Mama Macieja pracowała jako nauczycielka biologii i często otrzymywała „prezenty” od swoich uczniów, takie jak osierocone pisklęta lub zranione jaszczurki. Ich dom był pełen zwierząt, którymi musieli się opiekować. Jako dziecko Maciej uwielbiał nosić żółte koszulki, aby zwabić owady i zapylacze, aby je obserwować.

Bezpośrednim impulsem do uruchomienia Fundacji Łąka była decyzja Ministerstwa Rolnictwa i Rozwoju Wsi, która nie uwzględniła ochrony różnorodności biologicznej w Programie Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich 2014-2020. Był to moment, w którym Maciej uświadomił sobie, że jeśli chce by coś zostało zrobione, musi sam to zainicjować. W 2013 roku Maciej, wraz ze swoim bratem Karolem, założył Fundację Łąka.

 

Tekst po angielsku

Meadow Foundation
Poland

Meadow Foundation is reinventing wild flower meadows and bringing them into the cities. With this, he launches conversations about biodiversity and bridging the urban and rural culture by empowering inhabitants of the cities to have an active role in answering this challenge.

New Idea

Increasing urbanization in Europe has directly affected biodiversity rates. Europe’s biodiversity continues to be eroded resulting in ecosystem degradation. Cities’ greenery is dominated by evenly mowed and regularly watered lawns, but from a biological point of view, grass lawns are a monoculture and have not enable life to thrive. Moreover, as we trade in natural ecosystems for cement cities, the loss of natural detoxifiers like green wedge areas, has made air in Poland the most polluted air in all the European Union, and 33 of its 50 dirtiest cities.

Recognizing this necessary connection between biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem for people, animals and planet, Foundation seeks to boost biodiversity and counteract the devastation of natural resources through urbanization. Instead of monocultured lawns that do not help regulate air, water and soil quality, he is pushing for a more natural solution: through the growth of beautiful and bio-diverse flower meadows in city centers. Furthermore, he is enabling every citizen to have the tools to detoxify their life, home and city through his flowering meadows.

Foundation has looked to the natural qualities of wild flower meadows because of it’s unique properties to increase biodiversity and counteract devastation of natural resources. To name a few qualities of wild flower meadows: up to 300 species of insects and animals endemic to the region, need meadows as a source of food and shelter. Each wild flower meadow plot brings a is mix of 60 plant species, increasing natural vegetation for wildlife (e.g. bees and birds) while also stabilizing soil erosion as wildflowers have up to 25 times deeper roots than the lawn. Moreover, a meadow requires less water than grass lawns but can absorb twice as much; crucial for deterring flooding as cities come into focus as we try to mitigate climate change effects.
Organisation empowers the public to naturally and effectively nurture biodiversity through a 5 part model: education, advocacy, seed banks, services and research. Along with providing people the tools to create bio diverse meadow themselves, he also partners with the University of Life and Warsaw’s Botanic Garden to continue developing new strategies and products for increased bio-diversity. Of these studies, one has already confirmed the effects of catching air pollution particles by a meadow grown from an anti-smog seeds mix created by Maciej’s team. Efficiency in permanently catching contaminants per centimeter of the leaf is 6 times higher compared to grass and at least double compere to trees.
Anti-smog flower meadows became part of official anti-smog strategy in Cracow, where 100K m2 was seeded. With his team, he has already trained 5000 people (clerks, representatives of urban greeneries, activists) to construct and manage their own flower meadows ecosystem. Base on Maciej’s research 10 m2 (107ft2) of flower meadow is enough to create biodiverse ecosystem. Moreover, Foundation has already changed the local law in 8 counties, legalizing the use of flower meadows; this has directly translated to the transformation of hundreds of thousands square meters of biodiverse lands.

The Problem

Monoculture lawns occupy 1,9% of the surface of the continental US, thus being the single largest irrigated crop in the country (by NASA in 2015). What is more, the largest contaminant of soil comes from fertilizer and lawn maintenance, producing more pollution than grass can purify. In other countries of temperate climate statistics are very similar, 2,5% of Poland is monopolized by lawns. A lawn mower with two-cylinder engine during 1hour of work produces as much benzopyrene as a regular car during 3000 miles (almost 5000 km) ride.

People exploit natural resources in a way that endangers the survival of various organisms on Earth. The exploitation of fossil fuels has directly reduced species populations and genetic diversity, thus destabilizing the complex and interconnected system of biodiversity necessary for the survival of the humans. In Europe, there has been a dramatic decline in grassland butterflies by almost 50% between 1990 and 2011 with no sign of recovery. In the UK 97% of traditional meadows have disappeared and 75% of pollinators have become extinct, in countries where national Red List assessments are available, they show that often more than 40 per cent of bee species may be threatened. Moreover, this is inherently affecting the world’s food systems as 75% of food crops depend at least in part on pollination.

Despite the huge losses in the biodiversity there is still very limited awareness about the necessity for it. As of 2010, only 19% of Poles have heard the term “biodiversity”. Research from 2015 shows that the majority of European Union citizens have heard the term “biodiversity”, but less than one third understood what it meant and therefore the importance of it for a health ecosystem.

The domination of monoculture lawns in the cities does not support the idea of biodiversity protection. Lawns have become the only option for urban greeneries. Moreover, local laws in many European cities (e.g. in Poland, Hungary, Germany) require lawns and even give penalties to those who have neglected them. Areas with high grasses or with natural and diverse composition of plants are also fined. The monocultured nature of lawns has even been dubbed the “green desert” phenomenon, recognizing that these are places where plants do grow, but only two or three species are present and thus not representative of the natural biodiversity present before human interaction. Taking into account the 100 m2 grass lawn and 100 m2 flower meadow, the grass lawn grows on average 7 species of plants, and the meadow is composed of from dozens up to sixty. Only 4 species of pollinators visit grassy areas while meadow can be habited even by 300 species. It is apparent that the maintenance of grass lawns, which were historically a sign of luxury (before they became common worldwide, lawns used to be planted only in royal gardens) has a very high biological and environmental cost.

Another issue that has arisen in Europe is that citizens do not feel personally responsible to increase biodiversity and/or they don’t know how to do it. Accordingly go Attitudes of Europeans Towards Biodiversity (European Commission 2015), about a third of respondents (31%) consider they are making personal efforts to protect biodiversity and nature, but the most common (90%) action taken to protect biodiversity is respecting nature protection rules such as not leaving waste in natural areas. In Poland the issue of maintenance of biodiversity is not considered a personal responsibility but seen as a domain of state authorities – almost 60% of people indicate the state is responsible for this sphere.

Europe’s biodiversity continues to be eroded resulting in ecosystem degradation. The EU target of ‘halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services’ by 2020 remains a serious challenge. According to European Environment Agency global biodiversity loss will continue, with the strongest impacts on poor people in developing countries. Based on baseline scenario terrestrial mean species abundance will continue in 24% biodiversity loss till 2050.

The Strategy

Foundation not only has a positive impact on the environment and biodiversity, but he is also reshaping urban spaces by changing the landscape from green deserts to wilder biodiverse flower meadows. What is more, he is also empowering people to counteract human caused environmental change through education and owning the power to grow flower meadows themselves.

To make flower meadows a real and sustainable alternative for lawns, Maciej constructed a model which incorporates 5 key elements: education, advocacy, seed banks, services and research. The Foundation constantly operates on all levels, considering vegetation and seed collection occur in seasonal cycles. That said, education is a key element to building awareness around the value of biodiversity and the superior benefits of flower meadows over lawns. Moreover, direct services training in cooperation with partnering NGOs is reviving and bringing tradition environmentally friendly practices back to the cities: Through storytelling to raise awareness, showing the value of herbs for cooking and healing, as well as using the meadow flowers to design esthetically pleasing common areas.

Secondly, city greeneries are strictly controlled by local laws. That’s why adjusting the local law to allow for flowering meadows is a large step. Thanks to trainings for local administrations and using ecological and financial arguments (in public areas, lawn maintenance expenditure is estimated at PLN 1.5 billion (350 million euros annually), Maciej was able to successfully advocate for adjusting local law in 8 counties to allow for the sowing of meadows in areas previously zoned for only grass. To encourage the use of flowering meadows over grass lawns, Maciej has connected citizens to public funding options as participatory budgeting. Habitants of cities self-organized to submit over 150 projects of flower meadows in their neighborhood.

Next step is creating local seed banks. What is important, is that seed banks are not only a spot for production of wild meadow seeds, but also create a tangible social impact. Maciej creates seeds that encourage biodiverse and natural meadow’s. However, unique to Maciej’s strategy is that the seed banks are maintained in cooperation with rehab centers. For rehab facilities, it is an opportunity for horticultural (garden) therapy and professional activation of people suffering various crisis situations in their lives (drug addiction, alcoholism, homelessness). Those people also gain a chance to bring added value by increasing biodiversity. Six meadows seeds banks will be fully operational 2020. However, over 1250 meadows were sown using The Meadow Foundation’s seeds without the team’s direct participation and hundreds of thousands square meters where saw using self-produces seeds by Meadow Foundation.

Last but not least, The Meadow Foundation is an excellence center for sowing and maintaining wild flower meadows. They provide professional sowing and maintenance services for meadows and train other entities (offline and online) how to do it. This part of Maciej’s strategy is also the main fundraising source of The Foundation. Maciej shares his knowledge and know-how about sowing and mending meadows and has already independent units in other parts of the country implementing their concept. Finally, Organisation in cooperation with the University of Life and Science and The Botanic Garden in Warsaw, runs several research studies on various effects of creation of the flower meadows. One of the research studies has already confirmed the positive effects of neutralizing air pollution particles by a meadow from an anti-smog seeds mix created by Maciej’s team. Efficiency in permanently catching contaminants per centimeter of the leaf is 6 times better compared to grass and double compere to trees. It is worth noting that the area of leaves on the meadow is larger and if the meadow is not cut, it remains active also in the winter. Research is an important part of Foundation’s strategy, because it allows to experiment and test, but also give the irrefutable proof that meadows increase biodiversity and counteract devastation of natural resources, which is useful in education as well as in advocacy.

The impact of Foundation’s work is visible in Polish cities by habitats and visitors, as well as for scientists. Several insects from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species were observed by researchers at two meadows in the city of Warsaw, assuming their return was directly associated to the flowering meadow concept. Maciej’s anti-smog flower meadow seeds mix is in the process of being patented, constituting a part of his international scaling strategy. He has established the European Association of Wild Flower Meadows with partners from Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain and Switzerland to produce more seeds and leverage the impact that flower meadows have in urban areas. This partnership along with open sourcing all information so that every can have the tools to create their own wildflower meadow, is enabling Maciej to scale to European countries.

The Person

Maciej grew up in a family where the love of nature was very present. Almost everyone in his family was educated in the field of natural sciences. Maciej’s mother works as a biology teacher and has often received “gifts” from her pupils such as orphaned nestlings or hurt lizards. Their home was full of animals they had to take care for. As a child Maciej loved to wear yellow
t-shirts to lure insects and pollinators to observe them.

He has graduated biology at Warsaw University of Life Science and worked for 4 years at Birds of Poland Association. From this experience Maciej learned about the reality of the NGO Sector in Poland and its very common struggle with grant-dependency. This lesson combined with scientific roots spurred his impetus to act. During this time, Maciej became one of the 3 main founders who together launched a unique partnership called Open Jazdów, which is a community gathered around a Warsaw settlement of wooden houses in the very center of the city, offering social, cultural and ecological programs for the visitors. They maintain a biodiverse village in the very city center of Warsaw (4 minutes’ walk from the parliament building).

Maciej’s direct stimulus to start the Foundation came after a decision of The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Poland that did not take into account maintaining of biodiversity in the Rural Development Program 2014-2020. It was a moment when Maciej realized that if he wanted something to be done, he had to initiate it himself. In 2013 Maciej together with his brother Karol, founded The Meadow Foundation.