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Home > Feature Articles > Municipality Strategies for Sustainable Community Best Practices

Urban Biodiversity Restoration For Social Responsibility

Biodiversity and nature in the city are real and essential for survival and quality of life

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California water conservation in watersheds

Earth's Biodiversity Exists in Urban or Urbanizing Areas

In the City, many of us humans are living in close proximity to our fellow members of the universe. We have to share our living space, our watershed. How do we consider the wildflowers emerging each winter down the street in our local natural area? What species of bird is that calling this morning? Why on earth did that coyote decide to take up residence in the City? Cities abound with wild nature! In fact, a large percentage of Earth's biodiversity exists in urban or urbanizing areas, which are often adjacent to larger wild areas. It is more accurate to say that cities are in nature! Cities are embedded in the natural environment - the geology, watershed, climate and biodiversity - of whichever place on Earth where they devel0p.

As of 2005, MORE people live in urban than in rural areas for the first time in Earth's history.

Urban nature is critical for connecting half of the world's people with the natural environment

Connecting city dwellers with their local nature and watersheds is critical not only for building support for the conservation of faraway places, but also for the ecological restoration and stewardship of biodiversity at home.

Local Ecology

San Francisco exists in a unique place on Earth. Our City's own nature and biodiversity, special in its own right, is no less important to global ecological sustainability than the rainforests of Brazil, Borneo, Burundi and British Columbia.

EVERY local ecology is unique and critical to the earth's diverse natural system...

Biodiversity and nature in the city are real and essential for survival and quality of life.

Conservation of local urban biodiversity, everywhere unique in its own right, is as essential and paramount to global ecosystem conservation, sustainability, and human survival on the planet as is conservation of the Amazon rainforest or the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

Urban areas are the diverse, complex, intensely developed and decisive milieu in which we humans are confronted with the global challenge of how to interact more harmoniously, locally, with the rest of the natural world. Urban ecological restoration and stewardship is critical to urban and global ecological sustainability.

Ecological Impact of Human Cities

  • The City's wildlands and watersheds are severely fragmented.
  • Ecologically insensitive uses of open space negatively impact local biodiversity & watersheds via pollution and erosion of soil and geologic resources.
  • Invasive plants severely impact and degrade the health of natural areas.
  • Indigenous water resources are often channeled into the combined sewer and storm-water system, literally wasted, when they could be enjoyed by wildlife and people.
  • Resource agencies, between and within jurisdictions, practice very little collaboration and thus are unable to plan and manage our ecosystems according to a holistic, watershed approach.
  • Some agencies do not even manage their natural areas for biodiversity conservation.
  • Urban planning and development focuses on buildings, automobiles and parking lots.
  • Many city residents are unaware of their local biodiversity and watershed.
  • The idea that humans are separate from nature permeates modern society; many people still think that nature can only exist and/or be experienced at large nature reserves and that we cannot interact positively and harmoniously with nature in the city.
  • Many modern humans are culturally and physically disconnected from nature's web of life; we no longer define ourselves in relation to the ecological community from which we originate and which gives us life.

RESOURCES: Nature in the City: Nature in the City is a project of Earth Island Institute, a 501(c)3 California nonprofit public benefit corporation.

Reading List and Resources for California Native Plants -- the skin of our urban body



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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