According to the American Institute of Biological Sciences, urban sprawl produces some of the greatest local extinction rates, frequently eliminates a significant majority of native species, and causes severe habitat loss.
Another significant detriment caused by urbanization is that native species which are lost as a result of urban growth are frequently replaced with nonnative species. The introduction of such nonnative species threatens the biological uniqueness of local ecosystems.
However, there are ways to green up your city and incorporate native ecosystems into the urban environment! Here are a five ideas to go about harmonizing the local native flora and fauna with surrounding urban development:
Steps to make your city greener
#1 Set up a community garden
Creating a community garden not only gives the community a place to congregate and become more educated about where their food comes from, but it also gives insects a source of food! Bees and spiders, for example, both essential to an ecosystem yet rarely thought about, are given the opportunity to thrive in a safe environment.
#2 Green your building
A building made out of just brick or concrete is not only unattractive, it also does nothing for the environment. However, by making the building “green”, it can attract wildlife, such as birds, and do its part in emitting a little oxygen back into the air.
The process of “greening” a building simply means that the roof or wall of the building is covered by vegetation. The outer part of the building is protected by a membrane between the structure and the growth, so it would not corrode the building in any way.
“Greening” a building provides an environmental benefit, but also a psychological benefit to the people working or living in the building by creating a sense of calm and peacefulness.
Connectivity refers to providing wildlife with corridors and connections between habitats. It allows for the free movement of species from one area to another.
Providing options for wildlife to travel and find new food sources, water sources, and mates are extremely important to urban biodiversity. It allows for animals to maintain their populations, migrate, etc. The idea is to allow native animals to live as unimpeded as possible within the urban environment.
#4 Use native plants and plant appropriately
In order to increase biodiversity and create a more rich environment within an urban landscape, it is encouraged to plant native species of plants in order to better support a habitat’s natural wildlife. Birds and bugs are already adapted to eat and use native species of flora, so it is logical to incorporate them into the urban landscape.
Of course, the more native species of plants that are incorporated, the better. However, different plants cultivate and attract different creatures. So it is suggested that some research is done to figure out what plants would be most beneficial and in what areas before the planting begins.
#5 Don’t use pesticides/fertilizers and rethink lawns
The reason is that chemical fertilizers and pesticides have a “scorched-earth” policy when it comes to killing off bugs. They don’t discriminate when it comes to the good bugs and bad bugs, they kill ALL the bugs.
Why does this matter? Well, bees, for instance, are very sensitive to both organic and chemical pesticides. Yet, bees are a very important part of a functioning ecosystem.
And what about lawn maintenance? Well, a close-cut lawn means that it will provide animals with little to no source of food or shelter. Therefore, the lawn will be effectively useless to reinstating a rich and diverse ecosystem. It would be much better to incorporate lush, diverse, and native plants to your garden.
You now have five different ideas to green up your city. Just a few things to keep in mind before jumping in and getting your hands dirty!
Remember to use all potential options, be creative and innovative in figuring out ways to develop new opportunities to create a green space, think of ways to make something multi-functional, and don’t be scared to try to make something green that hasn’t originally been considered!