Preservation of the urban Environment

Image of Nara Figueiredo

Traditionally, the environmental movement has concentrated its efforts in the preservation of the natural spaces, understanding these as those spaces in which the impact of the man has been minimum. Anyhow, the progressive concentration of population in urban spaces, and the impact of cities and its design, so much in the health of its inhabitants (of all species) as in the ecosystems that surrounds them has forced in the last years to concentrate more efforts of preservation in urban spaces. In fact, the dichotomy ” urban space – nature ” is falling little by little in disuse, accepting the need of making cities permeable so that natural spaces join urbanism

However, campaigns such as the one promoted by SEO Birdlife under the name “Neighbourhood Birds” in which it draws attention to the progressive disappearance of species once so common in our cities as the sparrow or the swift makes it clear that this process does not progress at the required pace.
There is an urgent need for the re-definition of cities, comfortably entrenched behind their parapet of “sustainability”, defined simply as an electoral slogan and alibi for their progressive “inevitable” growth. This requires both greater public awareness and the implementation of municipal regulations that have preservation of the environment as one of the main axes. There’s no need to invent anything. Literature on how to do this has long been available and is summarized in the “Local action for Diversity” application manuals adopted following the Convention on Biological Diversity presented at the Earth Summit in Rio 1992 and summarized in “BiodiverCITIES: A Handbook for municipal Biodiversity Management for Local Governments”

For practical purposes, some of the municipal policy proposals to be developed are:

1) Incorporation of “natural capital” into municipal accounts, along with policies aimed at reducing the ecological footprint and incentivizing the conservation of biodiversity and the green economy.

2) Planning urban expansion by understanding Soil as a basic resource to preserve and recover; while pushing regulations demanding the use of solutions based on nature in the urbanization process (green roofs, vertical gardens, green pavements, sustainable drainage… )

3) Policies for the conservation of indigenous fauna through the programming of maintenance and construction works in appropriate periods so as not to interfere with biological cycles, as well as the development of regulations for the rehabilitation and construction of buildings respectful of biodiversity.

4) Prioritization of diversified green areas, with native varieties and limited management, adapted to the climatic conditions of each town, with the aim of maintaining zones, not only green, but also full of life.

5) Identification of species and areas of greatest conservation interest by local technicians in order to give them priority and develop active policies that allow their recovery.

6) To promote education and citizen participation in the development of any environmental policy in order to weave a network of local interests and complicities that facilitate the success of the different policies implemented.

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