The turning point will be some time this year: for the first time in human history, more people will live in cities than in rural areas. By 2050, an estimated 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This has far reaching consequences on biodiversity, as city dwellers use natural resources of surrounding and remote regions, and people get further alienated from nature. In this context, urban conservation is an important tool for environmental awareness raising and education.The corresponding ICLEI report is dated June 28, 2006 on their Web site:
Countdown 2010, an initiative launched by the IUCN Regional Office for Europe, is presently supporting the development of a pilot project on urban conservation. The cooperation is coordinated by ICLEI, the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives.
At a workshop from 26-28 June 2006 in Rome, hosted by RomaNatura, representatives from five cities met to finalise the development of the pilot project called “Local Action for Biodiversity”. The pilot group, which will eventually include 15 cities, includes Cape Town, Durban, Rome, Tilburg, São Paulo, Los Angeles and Havana. These cities plan to pioneer a global programme on urban biodiversity, as a contribution to the 2010 biodiversity target.
- IUCN, July 3, 2006, Countdown 2010 supports urban conservation
However, I could find nothing regarding "urban conservation" on the IUCN, ICLEI, nor the Countdown 2010 web sites, other than these announcements. There may be more information available from the identified pilot cities themselves. New York City, unfortunately, is not among them.
ICLEI’s Local Action for Biodiversity Initiative gained momentum this week when biodiversity managers of ICLEI Members met with ICLEI, IUCN, and Countdown 2010 to develop the structure and workplan for the three-year pilot project.
The two day meeting, held from 26-28 June in Rome (Italy), was generously hosted and supported by RomaNatura, the municipal park management organization of the City of Rome.
ICLEI Members that were represented were: Cape Town and Durban (South Africa), Rome (Italy), São Paulo (Brazil) and Tilburg (Netherlands). Short reports were also presented by Los Angeles (USA) and Zagreb (Croatia).
- ICLEI, June 28, 2006, Planning underway on ICLEI’s Biodiversity Initiative
Urban biodiversity is linked to wider concerns about biodiversity and general conservation efforts:
- As more and more people live in urban areas, their connections to nature, and the values they ascribe to it, are determined by the species they encounter locally in urban settings rather than those "in the wild."
- Biodiversity is linked to general environmental justice issues. Urban neighborhoods of lower socio-economic status are associated with lower biodiversity.
- Urban areas, as major ports of entry for international trade, are the "patient zero" for new infestations of invasive species.
Urban gardeners can have a huge collective impact on biodiversity. The more I garden "as if" I live in a natural area rather than an artificial one, the more my choices reduce my gardening "footprint," support and develop local diversity, and amplify that local diversity through my neighborhood and beyond.
- Countdown 2010
- International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI), Local Governments for Sustainability
- Urban Habitats
- World Conservation Union (IUCN)