The Colonisation of Urban Wasteland

Basic info on the colonisation of wasteland including examples

Refers to AQA A2 Geography, Ecosystems Change and Challenge Unit

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  • The Colonisation of Urban Wasteland
    • Types of wasteland
      • Abandoned railway lines
      • Industrial Sites
      • Derelict Buildings
      • Uncultivated strips of land between neighbouring gardens
      • Unattended areas of cemertaries and parks.
      • Areas destroyed by bombing in the aftermath of WWII
      • Long-term or short-term wasteland?
        • If longterm wasteland then plants have time to develop further.
    • What can cause colonisation to vary?
      • Long-term or short-term wasteland?
        • If longterm wasteland then plants have time to develop further.
      • Aspect
        • South facing slope warmer/ drier.
        • North facing colder/ damper.
      • Porosity
        • More moist so eood, brick and mortor colonised more rapidly than stone/ metal.
      • Slope
        • Horizontal areas and gentle slopes accumulate debries so soil may develop.
          • Rainwater also drains away more slowly; steep slopes experience rapid runoff and remain dry.
      • Surface Roughness
        • Plants cannot stick to (and colonise) smooth surfaces such as metal/ glass
      • Pollution Levels
        • High concentrations of lead or other pollutants may inhibit colonisation.
    • Sources of Seeds
      • Cattle herding through urban areas (Addis Ababa, Dublin until the 1970s)
        • Bring seeds in excrement along trading routes, bringing common pasture plants such as greater plantain to Dublin.
      • Seeds of forest plants clinging on to former wooded areas
        • May be preserved in gardens/ parks etc. with the potential to spread via. wind/ animals.
        • How ground ivy/ wood avens have come into the city.
      • Cities as a 'melting pot' for plant immigration
        • 35% of Dublin's plants non-native, many brought in with grain consignments for brewery. ACCIDENTAL INTRODUCTION.
      • Oxford Ragwort case study
        • Escaped from Oxford's botanical gardens in 1794.
        • Reached London by 1867, transported along railway lines, and now commonplace.
        • As the cinnabar moth only eats ragwort, it has begun to colonise, even on inner city wasteland. The colonisation of Oxford Ragwort had therefore brought a new species to city.
      • Plants brought in for medicinal uses or aesthetic appeal
        • Buddliea brought from China in 1890. Grows well in the city on walls were little else grows, for example on the tops of derelict buildings.
          • Attracts butterflies . Nettles grow alongside all over city wasteland, which the tortoiseshell butterflies feed on.
    • Faunal Species
      • Centipedes, millipedes, earthworms can tolerate a wide variety of conditions found on wasteland.
      • Butterflies and common field grasshopper found on wastelands.
      • More specialist species. The larvae of certain moths e.g. wormwood shark, depend on wasteland plants.


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