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Solar parks can be the subject of controversial claims that they spoil productive land, harm nature, and are ugly to look at. However, new research shows that if solar parks are managed the right way, they can help bumblebees to flourish and provide new habitats for wildlife, according to The Guardian.
The study was done at Lancaster University, and it encourages solar park owners to sow wildflowers beside their solar panels, and the park will become a more valuable habitat for pollinators. According to the study, doing so could boost bumblebee numbers beyond the borders of the park to about one kilometer away. This could benefit farmers who rely on pollinators to help produce food.
“Solar parks can occupy large areas of land, and while some of this is taken up by solar panels and other infrastructure, this typically only disturbs 5% of the ground. Large areas of land are therefore available to create bumblebee habitat … and [the solar parks] are often located in agricultural habitats where much bumblebee [population] has been lost. Establishing habitat on solar parks may therefore provide bumblebees with resources where they are most needed,” says study author Hollie Blaydes to The Guardian.
The research team conducted a simulation and found out that a wildflower meadow within the solar park had four times as many bees as the park based on turf grass.
“Our research suggests that the management of vegetation within the solar parks is really important,” says Blaydes. “Solar parks managed as a meadow act as bumblebee habitat that is rich in flowering plants. Management to create floral-rich bumblebee habitat could be one of the simplest ways to support bumblebees on solar parks.”