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Professor Przemysław Bąbelewski from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology at the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław emphasizes the detrimental impact of meticulous leaf raking in autumn. Contrary to common practice, Bąbelewski advocates for leaving fallen leaves undisturbed, attributing them as essential contributors to soil fertility and biodiversity.
According to Bąbelewski, fallen leaves play a crucial role in forming humus, enriching the soil and serving as a natural fertilizer. Beyond this, they create a microorganism-rich environment, providing shelter for smaller animals and serving as a winter dining spot for birds like crows and woodpeckers.
Contrary to the conventional aesthetic reasons for raking, Bąbelewski warns that meticulous leaf removal turns gardens into biological deserts. He suggests limiting leaf raking on private properties to representative lawns while advocating for minimal interference in city parks, focusing only on clearing paths and walkways.
Bąbelewski emphasizes that fallen leaves contribute to the biodiversity and ecological balance. They serve as vital components of the forest floor, supporting the life of soil organisms, insects, and acting as a protective layer for plant roots and seeds against frost and dehydration.
Leaves, when left in gardens or on plots, ensure richer vegetable and fruit harvests, robust flowers, and thriving trees. Additionally, leaf piles provide shelter for hedgehogs, contributing to the preservation of various species.
Bąbelewski acknowledges an exception to the rule – the leaves of the white chestnut tree. Due to the invasion of the horse chestnut leaf miner, meticulous removal of these leaves is advised to prevent the spread of the pest. However, even in such cases, proper disposal methods, like burying, are recommended.
Professor Bąbelewski’s insights encourage a reevaluation of our approach to fallen leaves, promoting a harmonious coexistence with nature. By understanding the ecological value of leaves, we can contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and ensure the health of our gardens and green spaces.