Making A Biophilic City
What are the elements of a city? They are supposed to be the buildings, infrastructure, and open spaces. But, when relationship between the living organisms, including people, plants, animals, microorganisms, etc. and the physical man-made features is established; the dynamic entity of the city is defined.
When we talk about biophilic city, the foremost thing that comes to our mind that whether they exist or can be created or its mere a utopian dream!
The basic challenge is that the goals of a biophilic city should encompass all aspects of a city, both the softscape and the hardscape. Biodiversity considerations should be taken into account in the development processes of a city. The city will not be able to do this unless it knows what biodiversity thrives in it. Everyone must play a part to actualise the goals.
The city which embodied biophilia is Singapore. The seed of making this city- a biophilic city was sown when Late Lee Kuan Yew, started Garden Development Programme in 1963. And see today, Singapore has emerged as a true biophilic city.
In India, Garden and Parks Department of Municipal Corporation should systematically consolidate, strengthen, and intensify its biodiversity conservation efforts. They should incorporate nature’s conservation in their master-plan through four basic verticals:
1) Conservation of Key Habitats,
2) Habitat Enhancement, Restoration and Species Recovery,
3) Applied Research in Conservation Biology and Planning, and
4) Community involvement with nature through different incentive based programmes
The goals and targets of making a biophilic city would be possible when all four of these verticals are synergised and implemented successfully.
Some of the actions that can be taken to ensure the successful implementation of the first aim are the identification, safeguarding, and strengthening of the most important biodiversity areas that harbour the bulk of the native gene pool; the enrichment of buffer areas and ensuring that land use is compatible with that of the important biodiversity areas; the enhancement and management of additional nodes of greenery throughout the city, such as parks, roadsides, roof-tops, vertical and sky rise greenery, etc.; and the development of ecological corridors so that the effective area that can be used by wildlife is enlarged.
Most urban areas are degraded; hence, second aim of the department is to enhance, restore or to create the habitats for wildlife. Rare species can only be sustainably conserved if the condition of the ecosystems that they thrive in is good.
Thirdly, use of state-of-the-art technology would greatly assist in the achievement of the third vertical. Indeed, the application of modern technology to biodiversity conservation work, including the use of GIS, drones, 3D modelling, agent-based modelling, genomics, etc., will help in data collection and analysis.
Last but not the least, without community involvement and public outreach, the efforts towards a biophilic city would be meaningless and would not be sustainable on a long-term basis. Biodiversity should be incorporated into the curricula of all levels of the education system. To build more ground support, we must also encourage citizen science.
Any city can be a biophilic city—but becoming biophilic can be made that much easier if all its citizens embrace biophilia into their ethos.
A city becomes biophilic when each year:
1) The area of green cover and tree canopy increases
2) More natural and human-created habitats are enhanced and restored with native species
3) The number of native species escalates due to discovery of new species, re-discoveries of species thought to be extinct, and new records
4) The participation rate of citizen scientists expands, and
5) Over 50 percent of the residents can name and recognize at least ten native plants, birds, and butterflies.
There are many cities around the world that are biophilic in their own special way beyond Singapore, including, Curitiba (Brazil), Edmonton (Canada), Montreal (Canada), Bonn (Germany), Nagoya (Japan), Wellington (New Zealand), and more.
Then why not choose any prospective small city in India and make it biophilic.