Our new experimental plots: "Diversity Hotspots"
For a forest to thrive, it not only requires a significant diversity of trees but also of all the plants and organisms that reside at their base.
When we plant on land that has previously been used for haymaking, we start from scratch: there is no soil diversity, only grass. That's why we recently started implementing what we call 'Diversity Hotspots.'
What is a Biodiversity Hotspot?
These are spaces of about 40 square metres where we mow the grass by hand and then divide this into four zones of 2 by 5 metres.
The first zone is a control, where nothing is planted in order to observe the utility of the other zones.
The second zone is seeded with wildflower seeds to attract pollinating insects.
The third zone is covered with a plastic sheet, where we later replace blocks of "poor" soil with richer blocks from a well-established part of the forest.
Finally, we subdivide the last zone into five spaces of 2x1 metres. We arrange a pile of stones, rubble, and tiles: this will attract lizards, snakes, and millipedes, among others; we also place a pile of hay that will enrich the soil over time and provide shelter for various insects; we stack a pile of wood and branches to attract small mammals such as shrews and hedgehogs; we lay a piece of corrugated metal to create a tunnel system for mice; and finally, we dig a hole and fill it with dead leaves to encourage the presence of fungi.
The anticipated result of these activities is to jumpstart diversity in an area that previously had none. We will report back in the future!
Have you tried something similar? What else would you add to a hotspot to foster biodiversity?