K307 Elsi

Multispecies wild plant lawns in Moscow legislation


Liudmila Volkova
Nikolay Sobolev


Growing urbanization requires a new approach to the input of city green spaces in biodiversity conservation.

The green places in residential areas and transport networks were studied as habitats for common plant and insect species as well as ecological corridors for rare species. We consider the nature preservation to provide a low-cost care for green areas.

Federal Construction Rules and Regulations (SNiP) 2.07.01-89 requires 40 % of a city area being designated for greenery for enhancing urban environment. Moscow's official statistics shows green areas having occupied 45,000 ha of 107,000 ha in the 1990s; including 23,000 ha of natural areas and 18,300 ha of areas to be landscaped.

Due to lack of money meadow-like multispecies lawns prevailed on Moscow streets and in residential quarters till the middle of 1990s. They kept there more than 100 species of wild plants and several hundred species of invertebrates and were eco-corridors for insects. This helped to reduces the isolation of natural areas from each other and increased the survival of local species populations.

Such natural to semi-natural areas ratio and a unique wedge-like structure of Moscow's green places have preserved in Moscow up to 70% of insect species.

Large-scale lawn-mowing has begun in mid-1990s and led to lost wild native plants together with anthophilous and grass-inhabiting invertebrates.

The destruction of tall multi-species lawns was not a violation of any law. Both the Federal and Moscow City Rules for Creating, Managing, and Protecting Greenery provided for only two types of grass cover for residential developments and transport networks: a lawn parterre (1-2 grasses) and an ordinary lawn (3-5 grasses). The grass shall not be higher than 10-15 cm in an ordinary lawn, flowering plants are not allowed there.

The "meadow lawn" was allowed only for large parks and forest parks, where we need meadows but not lawns.

The "meadow lawn" according to the Care Charts (lists of mandatory works) must be completely mowed twice per summer, that leads to the animals' death.

This is in a contradiction with the Federal Law "On the protection of the environment" of 10.01.2002 № 7-FZ.

We have prepared the modern version of the mentioned Moscow Rules (№ 743-PP of 10.09.2002, as amended on 27.02.2007, № 121-PP) introducing "multispecies lawn" as a new category of biodiversity-supportive lawn comprising native wild plants. This new category is applicable to residential areas. Its basic regime is once-a-year mowing of no more than 30 to 50% of the surface. This saves a fodder base for insects in the summer and places for wintering. Quality indicators include the presence of plant and insect species of Moscow Red List.

Unfortunately, the Care Charts for the multispecies lawn have not been adopted yet. This impedes its implementation. The main problem is that municipal enterprises are interested in obtaining funds just for expensive lawn care.