As green as it gets? Turfgrass lawn ecosystems in Bangalore

Presented by
neesha dutt
National Institute Of Advanced Studies

Neesha Dutt, 4th Year Ph D Scholar, Nias

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Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?

‘Turfgrass lawn ecosystems’ have slowly but surely made their way into developing countries including India through development-led landscaping. Property developers promise ‘world class’ facilities in which lawns are a consistent feature. By taking Bangalore as a case, the present study discusses utility based monocultural lawns in terms of their turfgrass varieties, resource consumption and ubiquity which may have implications for urban biodiversity.

Methods: What were the main research methods you used?

A preliminary analysis of the geospatial features of Bangalore city using satellite imagery revealed a significant expansion of lawn spaces in the last 10 years. Ground truthing of randomly selected lawn sites and interviews with respective managers enabled the identification of their exact utility. These sites were then segregated into two categories – sports lawns and aesthetic lawns, after which, turfgrass varieties used and maintenance regimes were compared.Further, a detailed data collection involving snowball sampling technique coupled with semi-structured, open-ended interviews was conducted with different stakeholders related to lawn production, management and design. These groups comprised landscape architects (which formed the largest group), nursery owners, sports field managers and institutional campus managers.

Results: What are your most important results?

Analysis of the data obtained shows that in comparison to an aesthetic turf (for example, an institutional lawn), a sports turf (for example, a golf course) requires a higher level of resource consumption in terms of turfgrass variety, fertilizers, pesticides, chemically treated water levels and mowing frequency. In addition, factors like utility, clientele, commercial value and aesthetic sensibilities contribute to lawns being a popular choice for landscaping.

Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?

Urban greenery in Bangalore is prominently being transformed into manicured turfgrass lawn ecosystems which may influence urban biodiversity. The present study shows that there is a significant variation in resource intensity in the two focal categories of lawn. Further, resource intensive sports turf is not expanding as opposed to the aesthetic category. Lawns as a popular landscaping option center on notions of environmental values and aesthetics.