The more conventional idea of a city is an urban conglomeration of settlements. It is a sphere with dense concentration of people and the built-up environment. So a city would typically consist of building and homes, office spaces, recreational spaces – which could include parks and zoos – industrial areas and transport hubs.
Such an idea gives the impression that cities don’t harbour spaces for nature and non-human beings to survive and thrive.
In recent times there has been a growing understanding of the role of nature in urban sprawls. Cities are places where nature does occur – in parks and forests in city limits, in lakes and wetlands and along the coasts and beaches. Nature in the cities provides relaxing and rejuvenating spaces for busy and stressed citizenry. It also provides ecological services by purifying the air, recharging water sources, minimizing impacts of extreme weather events. Urban green spaces provide a crucial economic and social construct to cities.
Urban biodiversity refers to the diversity of living organisms in cities and urban landscapes. Population of leopards, black kites foraging on garbage dumps, fig trees and slender loris found in a botanical park, rock agamas in the back-gardens are examples of urban biodiversity in Bengaluru. Human alterations and physical changes to a city over time influence biodiversity in cities, with the former playing a stronger hand.
Bengaluru is one of the fastest growing economic urban centres in the world. It also has a long, rich ecological history going back several centuries. Amidst the chaos of the city, Bengaluru has a variety of habitats – forest, lakes, open scrub, rocky hills. Over the years the city has also gained, through human intervention, fruit orchards, botanical parks, tree-lined roads, and even forest of trees in cemeteries, proliferating home gardens, and decades old army cantonments. All these contribute to and make up the biodiversity in Bengaluru.
Letting biodiversity thrive is an integral part of making cities sustainable. Bengaluru Sustainability Forum is a place for discussions and reflections on how to make that happen. To this effect, the Forum held a retreat that brought a host of people from diverse backgrounds, engaged with urban biodiversity, together under a roof. Kindly find the documentation of the retreat here. Resources inform of reports, projects and weblinks can be found by scrolling below.