Changing Behaviours – How Urban Spaces Can Preserve Natural Habitats
Urbanisation is slowly becoming one of the most problematic factors when considering the safety and protection of wildlife. With 66% of the world’s cities predicted to be considered ‘urban’ by 2050, it’s urgent that the expansion of cities resist encroaching upon natural habitats as much as possible.
By carefully planning and using strategic and innovative approaches, valuable ecosystems can be protected, and urban spaces can learn to preserve and support biodiversity.
How does urbanisation impact the ecosystem?
Unfortunately, with the ever-expanding rate of the population, urbanisation is one of the leading causes of biodiversity decline. Due to the need for flatter space, natural areas are the first to be used and transformed into smaller, disconnected patches that are just unable to support more complex ecological communities.
In the UK, a study revealed that 35% of plant species extinctions in urbanised cities were directly connected to population growth and urban development. In the US, it was found that 275 species had been endangered due to urbanisation, only strengthening the evidence that urbanisation is becoming increasingly harmful.
These findings highlight the detrimental consequences on biodiversity and underscore the urgent need for sustainable urban planning and conservation efforts to lessen further loss of species and their habitats.
One fundamental strategy in the action plan to preserve natural habitats is the promotion of green infrastructure. Cities are inevitably going to expand, meaning a significant increase in new budlings and architecture. By including an interconnected network of green spaces, there can be refuges for wildlife set up around the city. These spaces can also provide ecological connectivity and contribute to improved air and water quality.
These can include:
- Community Gardens: They allow residents to grow their own food whilst fostering a sense of community and helping to promote sustainable agriculture practices.
- Permeable Pavements: Replace traditional asphalt and concrete surfaces with permeable pavements that allow rainwater to soak into the ground, reducing runoff and replenishing groundwater.
- Rooftop Gardens: These can help to help alleviate the urban heat island effect by reducing the surface temperature of buildings, improving air quality, and decreasing energy consumption for cooling. They can also be useful for diminishing stormwater runoff.
By integrating green infrastructure into urban planning, we can create corridors that allow plants and animals to move freely, promoting biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.
Another fantastic opportunity to incorporate more greenery into the spaces is by planting native species back into the environment. Planting native trees, shrubs, and flowers can provide another natural source of food and shelter for wildlife, whilst helping to strengthen that web of interconnected ecosystems. When migrating season comes, birds can also use the plants as shelter.
Spreading awareness of these types of issues that often get swept under the tarmac can help to push the word out of the crisis at hand. Education and awareness campaigns promote a sense of responsibility and stewardship toward the environment.
By providing information about the importance of green infrastructure and its benefits, these campaigns can help individuals understand the impact of their actions on the ecosystem and motivate them to adopt more sustainable practices.
In order to keep any progress made on protecting natural habitats, there has to be some safeguarding measures in place to keep the green going. Sustainable energy sources like solar power can help take advantage of the natural resources at hand and can be adopted into green infrastructures.
For example, solar powered charging stations could help encourage people to visit parks and urban forests and appreciate what’s at stake. Many assume that solar power can only work effectively in the sunniest climates and that clouds block the power – this isn’t actually the case. Solar panels will still generate 25% of their power on the cloudiest of days, meaning you’ll always get use out of them.
Although urbanisation is inevitable, there are plenty of options and resources available to make sure that the natural habitat is not forgotten and can be kept as part of the city’s care.
Putting funding into educational campaigns, sustainable measures in building and advocating for the protection of natural spaces will help ensure that the homes of many wildlife species can remain in place, and biodiversity can work harmoniously.