Most Australians live in cities and towns and we do not generally think of these urban areas as habitat for wildlife or places where you can enjoy nature. But that is changing.
We are realising more and more that our urban areas are home to many native plants and animals including threatened species.
We are doing more and more to create habitat both in our own personal spaces and in our many community parks and gardens. And we are recognising the values of nature in urban areas for human well-being, the survival of species and the ecological health of our urban environment.
Healthy natural ecosystems can cool the air, filter pollutants, retain water and stormwater runoff, control pests, pollinate our gardens - and help reduce carbon emissions and moderate the impacts of climate change.
Unfortunately, the spread of urbanisation with its “acres and acres of tar and cement” is destroying the natural values we want and need in urban areas. And “off-setting” under the current rules is a very poor solution.
But nature-sensitive urban planning can help retain the best patches and create a matrix of natural areas in our cities.
And there is a lot we can all do in our own gardens and in local parks to:
· retain and enhance the natural habitat for all the local plants, animals and people.
· provide stepping stones and corridors for movement of species – including people.
· enhance the natural ecological processes needed for healthy urban ecosystems.
3 things really worth doing - you can do now…
1. Learn more about creating your own wildlife garden. There are some great organisations to help you do this:
2. Read how biodiversity needs to be seen as an opportunity and a valued resource to be preserved and maximised at all stages of urban design and planning - Georgia Garrard, Nicholas Williams and Sarah Bekessy ‘Here’s how to design cities where people and nature can both flourish‘ The Conversation 24 October 2018
3. Reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save energy used for heating by 20–50% by planting trees in the right place near your house. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. 2016. Benefits of Urban Trees.