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Reducing chemicals in urban private gardens to promote biodiversity, health and ecosystem services

The ChemFreeGarden Research Project investigates how chemicals used in our urban garden environments affect wildlife and human health in different ways. Knowledge obtained from this project can in the future help create more sustainable environments for urban gardens, lead to increased biodiversity and ecosystem services, and reduce risks to humans and animals from exposure to chemicals. The project is relevant for both the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and the national Swedish environmental goals, in particular the goal of a Non-Toxic Environment.


A bee sitting on a cornflower. Photo.

Natural habitats for wild species have greatly decreased in the modern agricultural landscape. Urban city gardens therefore constitute potentially important habitats for a variety of wild animals. Insects and other organisms also perform essential ecosystem services in urban gardens, such as pollination of fruits and berries, degradation processes in the soil, or act as natural enemies of pests.

However, many gardens contain a variety of toxic chemicals and pesticides used by garden owners and residents of urban areas, for different purposes. These chemicals can affect both the natural species that live in the garden and the health of garden owners themselves, but there is currently very little information about the risks and the short- and long-term consequences of this exposure.

The overall purpose of this interdisciplinary research project is to increase our knowledge of the risks and effects of the use of chemicals in urban garden environments for wild species and humans. In addition, the project wants to identify which chemicals are used today and affect these environments. We are also interested in garden owners’ knowledge of and attitudes to chemicals. We will actively communicate the results to national and regional stakeholders, garden owners and society.

Researchers from different parts of Lund University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences work together to answer questions relevant to the project's goals and purpose.The primary study area is the municipality of ​​Lund, where both private gardens and colony areas are investigated. The municipality of Lund is also an active partner throughout the project. Study organisms include, for example, hedgehogs, isopods, pollinating insects, soil insects, worms and bird. The project group uses various analytical techniques that include molecular biology, bioinformatics, analytical chemistry, metabolomics, and synchrotron light (MAXIV).


Igelkott i gräs. Foto.

Involved researchers

The links below go to personal pages on the CEC website and to Lund University's research portal.

Former employees:

  • Daniel Molins Delgado
  • Noëlie Molbert
  • Christina Marburger
Humla på rosa blomma. Foto.