Cities and urban wildlife

re-post from the Guardian

Cities and Urban Wildlife

Take any city and ask, has the government in place a long-term strategy to enhance the biodiversity through maintaining and increasing its green infrastructure? This requires not just consideration of the public realm but also ways to encourage citizens that this needs to happen in the backyard of every home.

In the past governments have often established arboretums to undertake research on trees and shrubs. It is now far more realistic to continue the aims of arboretums not by having these specialist sites, instead the approach needs to be to increase the range of trees and shrubs within the urban areas themselves.

Our cities and their urban areas are the arboretums of the present and future. Science needs to be involved to ensure that the biodiversity strategies allow for the care and re-introduction of trees and shrubs that encourage the full range of fauna, ie birds and insects to live across all urban areas as part of the green infrastructure networks.

The biggest stumbling block to such an approach is that planning authorities and developers continue with developments with minimal landscape in the name of urban intensification. As we rapidly increase the urban densities in new and older suburbs, the governments are not allowing for biodiversity that in turn assists with climate change adaptation.

Ever new development or re-development needs to demonstrate how it enhances the biodiversity. This allows for the removal of present trees and shrubs on the basis that the replacement greenery will be in fact more than was removed and will be enhancing the areas green infrastructure and therefore the biodiversity.

Greater links need to be adopted between the environmental sections of government and the planning authorities in order to have far greater legislative requirements underpinning development decisions and outcomes.

All precincts should be undergoing green infrastructure audits in order to develop long term strategies and planning approaches that increase the benefits from having complex green infrastructure systems. Included in that the audits should be assessments of the potential for improved biodiversity across all sectors of the urban areas.

In the USA town and cities are awakening to the benefits of biodiversity.

Here’s a story from the Guardian.

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