Geneva’s Symbolic Hedgehogs: Biodiversity and Connectivity

Landscape Team Visiting the Mission Grounds with Geneva Conservationist Bertrand von Arx

Terry Clements,
ASLA, Associate Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

From Green Landscape Journal: A Blog by the Team of Landscape Architects Working to Redesign the U.S. Mission Grounds

The hedgehog is a symbol of biodiversity and connectivity between individual properties in Geneva. Bertrand von Arx, conservationist for the city of Geneva, came the to the Mission to help us understand conservation and biodiversity issues in the region as well as to tour us and mission staff members about the mission grounds.  While we’d thought we had understood the site pretty well based upon our own site inventory and analysis, Mr. Von Arx pointed out a number of things that we just couldn’t have known, or just hadn’t thought about.

There’s a mix of regionally native trees and American imports on the grounds. Some are great for encouraging local birds to come and feast on insects and perhaps a small rodent or lizard. But the lawn only supports a few insects. More diversely-planted meadow or grass areas would support several dozen types of insects and support a more ecologically sustainable ecologic pyramid of flora and fauna, from the mirco-organisms to higher predators. Birds can fly in to feast, and small gaps in the perimeter fencing can allow lizards and hedgehogs to move on and off the site too.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start each project with a tour with a local conservationist to point out the subtle and not so subtle things that make a site part of its local natural and cultural context.