Within the past decade, leading voices in the scientific community have expressed great concern over the loss of biodiversity. In particular, Sir David Attenborough who served as President of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation notes that city populations may triple by 2020 with this increase occurring in major biodiversity hotspots (Elmqvist et al., 2013, p.34). A general change in the demographic makeup of a city has intense effects on ecological patterns and may contribute to the degradation of biodiversity. Increased levels of pollution often result in profound change in biological assemblages where flora and fauna density soon reduce over time. As a result, the overall capacity of an ecosystem is to obtain fundamental resources is drastically reduced making it virtually impossible to produce biomass or promote nutrient cycling (McDonald, 2015, p.23). It is also vital to acknowledge that a loss in biodiversity also affects human beings adversely, reducing the possibility of benefiting from the natural world. Even so, a paradigm shift in policy related to biodiversity can help reduce this steady dip while still creating opportunities for cities to promote biodiversity and achieve various sustainability goals.
Integrated Urban Biodiversity Planning
One of the most feasible approaches to preventing the loss of biodiversity in cities and other urban centers entails an integrated urban planning policy. It is always essential for various stakeholders responsible for managing a city’s resources to acknowledge its carrying capacity and its current population. Such data is essential in the establishment of any healthy city since key policy makes will always remain aware of the ever increasing populace while still managing the biodiversity available (Gerdes, 2010, p.45). In ensuring that these plans achieve their intended goal, it is vital to amalgamate these efforts with public education and recommendations from health care professionals. Urban reforestation and the more recent wetland creation initiatives are the best examples of urban biodiversity planning with the aim of reducing the loss of biodiversity in cities (Silori et al., 2013). Various cities around the world, most notably New York and Hong Kong, now promote peri-urban agriculture as to promote biodiversity within their localities (Grunewald, 2018, p.56). In addition to this, they also endeavor to promote ecological sanitation by using spaces in nature as settings for learning and wellness programs. A bottom-up planning up approach also involves local inhabitants who are accorded a unique opportunity to learn about the natural world and also promote conservation efforts.
Reformation Current Conservation Policies
A complete restructuring of current conservation policies in major bio-diversity hotspots will pave way for more efficient goals that aim to address the root problems plaguing the loss of biodiversity. A majority of the strategies that have been crafted by notable technocrats have employed a superficial approach when seeking to implement conservation policies in cities. As a result, these areas still face the same challenges and are still unable to make the great leap forward into a future with an assured biodiversity. Instead of using blanket conservation policies, cities can begin by targeting specific native species that may be threatened by human encroachment. Concerted efforts to maintain them and expand their habitat in manicured landscapes would be a good start in helping increase their population (Anon, 2014, p.96). Moreover, such a policy would also make it easier for members of the public to participate in a coordinated effort to involve them in conservation initiatives. The policy of “saving as many native species as possible” is erroneous and impractical especially in cities with limited resources. The selection of specific Lepidoptera, birds, mammals and insects in Singapore is a practical arrangement that will, in the long haul, improve the population of at-risk species (Müller et al., 2010, p.58). Care should also be taken when increasing the population of dangerous reptile species such as the King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) to avoid human-wildlife conflict.
Creating Constituencies for Conservation and Apprising Decision-Making
It is fundamental that major decision maker acknowledge the vital role of ecosystems in cities work towards engaging the conservation community. By so doing, every critical decision that is to be made will also be viewed from a biodiversity and conservation perspective for posterity. Such efforts promote a better understanding of the interconnectedness between human activities and the natural world thus allowing a certain degree of appreciation for the ecosystem. Stakeholders who were previously oblivious to this reality now become aware of this relationship and work towards ensuring that they are the vanguards of biodiversity within their jurisdictions (Hostetler, 2012, p.65). Moreover, the creation of constituencies as exclusive hubs for biodiversity has the potential of attracting cooperate entities from the for-profit sector that will be more than happy to participate in preventing the loss of biodiversity. In this regard, new opportunities are created for decisions with reputational liability and regulatory compliance in mind therefore promoting sustainable business practices. Also, communities living around these constituencies will have a unique opportunity to participate in the management of their natural resources and support the biodiversity around these areas. One such example is in Arusha, Tanzania where members of Maasai community actively participate in the protection of biodiversity around Tarangire National Park under the Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) agreement (Grobbelaar, 2012, p.16). Through this cultural ecosystem contract, traditional biodiversity is maintained while also benefitting the local community.
Biodiversity is an integral part of many cities owing to the symbiotic relationship that humanity shares with nature. Integrating urban biodiversity, the reformation of current conservative policies and the creation of constituencies for conservation and decision making are feasible recommendations to this end. Their implementation will go a long way in preventing the loss of biodiversity in cities and promoting life in the natural world.