The Nature of Cities
Education in ecology and biodiversity
If cities look to stay within their boarders, there is the need to seek acceptable ways to intensify the number of residents within the older suburbs. This requires an intelligent engagement with the present residents of suburban areas on a case by case basis.
Given the need to address climate change within the suburbs as they are being redeveloped and upgraded throws up a host of requirements that should have by now have been built into legislation. Sadly this is not so as most of the re-development and intensification as been left to laissez-faire market forces.
Our planning authorities tend to green wash the requirements and then allow market forces to determine the design and developments.
Developers will always do whatever is required and not much more. To increase their sales, developers, with the blessing of planning authorities and in collusion of the architects, they green wash their developments in order to attract buyers and to increase their marketing through the local media. All sorts of superficial rating systems are used to assist in the marketing.
This needs to change if climate change is to be seriously addressed in cities and towns. Climate change adaptation requires urgent attention to the ecology and biodiversity within all urban areas.
Unfortunately as universities have come under pressure financially leading to a reduction in standards of education. This has resulted in particular areas of planning, design and building education becoming optional.
Our cities and towns need to be adapted to deal with the current and future pressures of climate change. This requires a new level of expertise. One essential element in this the education of the professionals who must deal with climate change adaptation in the design, planning and development of our urban spaces. Green wash, which is the current standard, is no longer acceptable.
In order to achieve a higher level of climate change adaptation, programs in architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture should be required to provide far more than just an optional minimum level of education about the fundamentals of ecology and biodiversity and how it applies within cities.
From the view-point of natural resources, including ecology and biodiversity, university programs in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and urban planning must recognise that their graduates will have to be professionals who:
- Contribute to the design and creation of urban places that minimize the interruption of cycles of natural resources.
- Enhance and maintain a high level of green infrastructure.
- Plan, design and create cities sustainable settlements where residents recognize their inter-dependence on natural resources and the importance of sustainability of the cycles of natural resources.
- Plan, design and create cities sustainable settlements where ecology and biodiversity are fundamental contributors to the health of the urban areas and the residents.
All the professions involved, including architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and urban planning require a minimum level of green infrastructure education that includes the fundamentals of ecology and biodiversity.
It is about education in ecology and biodiversity.
This higher level requirement is being recognised by a few professional leaders but as yet is to be seriously taken up by the relevant educators within the universities. Academics relevant to these professions are locked in unpleasant battles about their own working conditions and life styles. As a result far too many professional programs have been skewed to address personal preferences and internal requirements at the expense of maintaining standards that match the requirements of the professions into which their graduate hope to be recognised.
Unfortunately many within the professions are also complicit through their silence in that they are reluctant to criticise the university programs and their relevant academics.
Luckily there are those who offer leadership on this topic. These leaders have uploaded comments to the The Nature of Cities website: click here