Trinity College Dublin is to ask the public to vote on its plans to turn the formal grass area outside the front of the university into an urban wildflower meadow.
The move, if approved, would be a pioneering attempt in Ireland to place wildflower spaces in the heart of the city.
The area under consideration – one of the most prominent areas in the capital – is the grass outside the university's front gate, where statues of Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke stand and thousands pass by on a daily basis.
Trinity says the plan is part of the university’s response to Ireland’s “biodiversity crisis”.
Though the area may end up looking less tidy, supporters of the idea say it will be an important reminder of what wild nature looks like.
Research shows lawn-mowing, ground preparation and pesticide control can disturb important insects that feed and nest in the soil.
Planting wildflowers and minimising interference, by contrast, can support biodiversity and provide a habitat for native insects and food for pollinators in the city centre.
The vote will be open to the public and will be launched on Tuesday.
Prof John Parnell, chair of Trinity's grounds and gardens committee and professor of botany, said the area in question is very formal in layout and has for at least 150 years been under grass.
“To change it will send out a strong signal that Trinity College Dublin is not bound by the past but engaged with the future,” he said.
Trinity has already converted large sections of of its campus to wildflower meadows, providing a place to rest, live and feed for insects last year.
If the plans get the green light, it will flower in spring and summer and be left untouched over the winter months when pollinator insects – such as butterflies, hoverflies and bees – hibernate.
Trinity says the planting would most likely be a mix of annuals and perennials, with as many of them being of known Irish origin as possible. The aim is to extend flowering over as long a period as is possible.
Members of the public can vote online (https://vote.onestepcloser.to/tcd/wildflowers) on the plans from this week.