Wild Field Pansy and Black Medick flowers on waste ground

Wasteland 6 – Sixth 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.

Low and hugging the ground, were these lovely little Field Pansies (Viola arvensis) among Black Medick (Medicago lupulina) (looking like clover with small yellow flowerheads). The beauty of this patch of wild vegetation could in itself be a good reason for encouraging the existence of such places. However, Kate Bannigan in her article Brownfield Sites: A Wildlife Haven points out that due to their unique pasts and lack of management, they may have become home to many rare and essential species (invertebrates, plants, birds, bats, reptiles and amphibians) that have taken advantage of the mosaic of habitats that can be provided in one location. She says:

Although often negatively perceived, brownfield sites represent a unique opportunity for something like a little wilderness in an urban environment. The benefits this has for varied animal habitats, the environment and human happiness are now becoming clear. Increasing awareness of the many environmental and social benefits of brownfield sites has led to them being considered in urban planning as unorthodox green spaces.

6 Replies to “Wasteland 6”

  1. Thank you, Claudia. I thought I would share the sources of my information as I have been looking into the subject and find it interesting. Of course, my pictures just show a small strip of vegetation, maybe not a typical brownfield site, especially if the plants were seeded deliberately, but it has given much food for thought.

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  2. Yes, thank you for the info. I think this is something (brownfields returning to life, I mean) that could really use as much attention as we can give it because it seems a good way to heal a lot of earth’s wounds, work with the site where it is and go from there. It seems a better chance of getting people involved to work this way and results are meaningful in a quick space of time which I think helps when you are trying to have people see how to make a difference.

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  3. Thank you, Claudia. There is the question of the other uses to which brownfield sites might be put (such as providing much needed housing when greenfield sites might be at risk), and weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining a site as it is. Philip Strange points out that such sites can become dumping grounds for rubbish which could change or destroy useful plants. Complex. But at least people should realise that these sites potentially have a significant contribution to make to biodiversity and cleaner air in urban areas, even if they remain undeveloped.

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  4. I think it also matters what made the place a browfield in the first place – I know here in my state there are plenty of old industrial sites that can’t be used without a major cleanup, and that is costly. So turning them into parks or open land is sometimes a good option just on that basis.

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  5. You are right, Claudia. Brownfield sites come in many varieties. In South Wales, with its great history of mining, particularly for coal and copper, and the smelting processes afterwards, there must be sites with physical and chemical characteristics that make it important but maybe difficult to treat them. The use of planting to neutralise the soils and to landscape the locations is well-established although I do not know the details.

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