Researchers with the University of Manitoba have found a way for Manitoba Hydro to both save money and help the environment.

Dr. Lionel Leston says the area underneath Manitoba Hydro transmission lines can be used by Hydro to save money by reducing labour costs and help the environment by providing more places for wildlife to live.

"Urban lines are mowed weekly and sprayed twice a year," said Leston, a researcher on this study. "But parts are large enough that if we set aside part of these urban lines and make them wildlife habitats, they would contribute to conservation and increase biodiversity in the city."

The study included multiple mowing patterns under transmission lines. Leston says that wildlife responds differently to different mowing patterns.

"A combination of mowed and unmowed habitats might enable them to support more species," Leston said.

He suggests areas could also be used to regrow tall-grass prairies that used to cover much of Manitoba. There is enough size under some of the lines to grow a tall-grass prairies convervation area the size of the Living Prairie Museum in Winnipeg. Currently, less than one per cent of Manitoba's original tall-grass prairies remains.

"Not nessesarily just for Tall Grass Prairie but you could plant the host plant of certain butterfly species," Leston said. "You could create a lot more wildlife habitat in cities."

Leston also points out that Hydro could save money as they would be reducing labour costs and machine costs by mowing less space and spraying less often.

The study was completed by Professor Nicola Koper and Leston, who was her former PhD student.