Wasteland 5 – Fifth in a series of pictures of vegetation apparently growing naturally on wasteland and contributing to the biodiversity of the habitat on the side of Pipers Walk on the Waterfront in Swansea, South Wales, 19 June 2021.
Although this particular site is due for redevelopment in what is now an amenity area, and some distance from the main road or large-scale industrial activity, it is interesting to note that urban wastelands can be helpful in reducing air pollution. Particulate matter in the air represents an increasing threat to human health in urban areas. Urban wastelands: on the frontline between air pollution sources and residential areas by Przbysz et al describes how wasteland vegetation can accumulate significant amounts of particulate matter (PM) and trace elements (TE) from polluted air on their foliage. This is dependent on the location of the wasteland (how near it is to the pollution source) and not its species composition. The vegetation is more effective at accumulating PM and TE if it has a layered structure with trees, shrubs and low plants. ‘The results of this study prove that in areas where organised greenery is not present, it is important to maintain spontaneous wasteland vegetation close to emission sources because it could serve as an invaluable tool in passive air purification from PM, mainly through PM accumulation and inhibition of the spread of PM to residential areas’.