Writing about green roofs as habitat for insects reminded me of an awesome idea I saw last month at the International Congress for Conservation Biology in Auckland, New Zealand (an amazing conference that inspired me to start this very blog!). The idea was presented in a poster by a researcher, SD Reay, from the Auckland University of Technology. His poster was called “Designing walls as ecosystems in urban environments”. He talked about not only the ability of urban walls (yes, walls!) to create habitat but also about bringing nature to urban people- which could help with Nature Deficit Disorder! In other words, by building walls sustainably and out of natural material in way in which the walls actually preform ecosystem services (such as habitat, clean air, clean water), urban humans will be able to appreciate and experience nature. He showed a wall made of a prototype ceramic tile that was shaped in a way to provide shelter for insects and places for plants to grow- so cool! The wall shown in the pic below is not from Reay’s poster but illustrates the idea of an “ecowall” that provides ecosystem services, like water filtration and habitat.
These living walls could potentially provide habitat for the many insects that use vertical structures like native bees and honey bees, wasps, many types of beetles, like jewel beetles and weevils, grasshoppers, moths, ants, etc!. They could also provide habitat for spiders, reptiles, and even act as bird nesting cavities! The walls range from entirely green and covered in plants to walls made of sustainable material constructed with intentional nooks and crannies for creatures to inhabit.
The idea of living walls is getting popular and scientists are working with landscape architects and innovative designers. You can check out a really interesting idea created by artists called Urban Hedgerow– taking the idea of insect habitat to a new level. Also, check out this blog post with pictures of green walls from gardenopolis. Who knows, perhaps our cities will soon look like this: