As we, humans, increase our presence and reach, on this planet, human-animal interaction is becoming increasingly restricted to pets and livestock as wild animals, being hostile, pose a threat to our increasingly urban civilisations.
For farmers, reduction in community pasture lands, increase in land value, coupled with a loss of forest cover pose a threat as animals forage over farms, ruining crops overnight. Seasonal migration of nomads from drier regions results in massive destruction of plantations and crops. To cope up, a lot of farmers have recently gone back to their old ways of natural incorporation. How? Bio Fences.
People stopped growing bio fences as they need patience and extensive maintenance in its early stages due to risk of foraging and damage. But now, Fencing has been proven to be a unique and cost-effective method to keep wildlife and livestock away from private property. Bio-fences don’t just serve as bounding plants but also several other purposes, thus, being beneficial not just for humans, but also for the environment.
Serving as a habitat for many birds and animals, bio fences help provide compost and naturally fertilize the soil. Fallen leaves, droppings from birds and animals taking shelter and small branches of the living fence can be used as compost. These living fences also provide bee forage, thus helping in pollination.
Moisture loss in land and soil erosion due to wind are very common problems faced by farmers. Bio-fences act as effective windbreaks, thus providing dust control and preventing moisture loss and topsoil erosion.
These living fences are environment-friendly and harvesting of such plants can also be economical. For instance, Chinese chaste trees can be used to make mosquito repellents. Edible fruits like Bengal currants also act as fences and provide income.
The plant species for fencing are chosen based on the location (nativity) and its requirements. Lemongrass, Agave, Rambans, and certain species of chilly have been proven to deter elephants, boars and other wild animals. Palmyrah, Manila and Tamarind protect topsoil.
These natural fences can be incorporated in our urban context as well. House gardens are the closest mimics to a healthy ecosystem. Bio fences don’t just help them thrive but also provide aesthetic value. For example, Bougainvillea plants provide a very rich look with its bright flowers along with providing natural compost and shelter to pollinators like butterflies, bees, squirrels etc.
On a larger scale, Bio fencing can also be used in gated communities. This will, in turn, increase the net oxygen inflow, provide a cooler microclimate and create a thriving ecosystem which gives back to the community in terms of organic harvest, protection, a great community space and much more after a couple of years of maintenance.
Bio-fences are a great way to achieve tree cover and bring balance in our ecosystem. They can help us lead a sustainable life, conserve biodiversity and reduce pollution by absorbing carbon. Thus, it could be a small step towards mitigating climate change.