More Than Weeds is a project aimed at changing people’s perception of weeds that grow on walls, pavements and tree pits in urban areas.
The project is the brainchild of Sophie Leguil, a London-based botanist, who aims to encourage local authorities to embrace spontaneous flora, and to help them manage it in a sustainable way through the publication of best practice guides.
Across Europe, more and more cities are moving away from chemical weeding, and sometimes from weeding altogether. In 2017, France banned the use of pesticides in public spaces is forbidden (except in cemeteries and sports grounds).
The so-called “Labbé Law” or “Zérophyto” (for zero phytosanitary products) has forced local authorities to find alternative weeding solutions to glyphosate (Roundup). Since then, many villages, small towns and cities in France have decided to embrace weed growth. While some local authorities in France are encouraging residents to sow native annual plants in pavement cracks and along walls.
Inspired by France’s Sauvages de Ma Rue [Wild Plants of My Street] initiative, launched by the French Natural History Museum and the botanical organisation Telabotanica in 2011, More Than Weeds aims to encourage the recording of urban flora through guided walks, social media and other communications, exhibitions and the publication of identification guides.
Since Sauvages de Ma Rue’s inception, over 100,000 records have been sent by local groups, covering 340 species, and a free online course, Herbes Folles [Wild Weeds] has had 10,000 participants and 2,200 complete it.
Data collected by the project has also been used by scientists for research on urban species richness, pollination ecology and climate change
France-born Sophie Leguil, who hopes to set up something similar to Sauvages de Ma Rue in the UK, believes urban flora offers a unique way to improve our connectivity with nature, as well as providing valuable ecosystem services.
More Than Weeds was launched last year, and has amassed a following on social media since lockdowns worldwide have made many people more aware of nature and their environment. Sophie Leguil is encouraging peole to embrace a little green on their streets by sharing their pictures on social media tagged #morethanweeds.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com