Kraków scientist tells cleanup do-gooders ‘LEAF them leaves alone!’
A scientist from Kraków has started a campaign urging people not to clean up fallen leaves.
The ‘liść to NIE śmieć’ (Leaves aren’t rubbish) campaign which is run by a group in Wrocław has now be championed by Dr. Tomasz Figarski who is a specialist at the Forest Management and Geodesy Office.
Fallen leaves offer multiple benefits to the soil and ecosystem of living organisms found within them such as protecting the soil from drying out, helping to retain water, reducing temperature fluctuations and preventing plants, shrubs and roots from freezing.
Dr. Figarski said: “Small soil organisms although often invisible to the naked eye play a key role in the functioning of the ecosystem. They are an autumn and winter pantry, providing food for others. Parks without leaves are impoverished ecosystems in terms of the wealth of animals that inhabit them.”
The leaves can also provide a place for smaller animals such as hedgehogs and small rodents to take cover as well as providing food for them.
The fallen leaves work as a fertilizer for trees, plants and shrubs, potentially nourishing the very trees from which they fell.
Figarski said: “Fallen leaves create a mulch the leaves are therefore a natural organic fertilizer. The opposite effect, thorough raking of fallen leaves, causes the removal of nutrients stored in the leaves from the ecosystem. Such activities, carried out over many years, reduce the vitality of the ecosystem and the plants present in it.”
According to the scientist, only paths and cycle routes should be cleared in parks and should then be composted and not put into plastic recycling bags.
He added that in frequently visited green areas there should be notice boards reminding visitors that leaves should remain part of the ecosystem.
Warsaw has already banned the use of leaf blowers as they contribute to higher levels of smog, due to their use moving settled dust around and Dr. Figarski would like to now see a nationwide ban on them introduced.
For more on the battle against leaf raking click HERE.