To quote urban planning expert Timothy Beatley, whom we interview in this issue, “We are an urbanized world now.” According to the 2012 World Population Data Sheet, 51% of the world’s population—more than ever before–now lives in urban areas. In many urban communities, something else is starting to grow along with the population: a realization that nature’s ecological systems are the vital organs of a living, resilient city, and there is no life support system for humans if those vital organs fail. In this issue of Leaf Litter, we will explore some of the ways in which cities are strengthening community health, vibrancy, and resilience by reintegrating ecology into the urban fabric.
First, we take a look at cities that are, in a sense, starting over. From London to New York, cities are taking stock of –and maximizing–previously unrealized or undervalued ecological assets. We also examine how cities facing three different regional, environmental environments are combining human ingenuity and innovations in engineering, science and technology to regenerate ecology.
Timothy Beatley, Theresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture introduces us to the concept of “biophilic cities,” urban communities that go beyond sustainable design and ecological interventions to actually foster human closeness to nature.
In their opinion piece, Form Should Serve Function in Urban Green Space, Biohabitats’ Keith Bowers and Jessica Norris issue a challenge to make urban areas “ecologically astounding” by bridging the gap between conservation science and the design of urban green space.
In addition to resources on the topic of urban ecology, we provide an update on some of the work we’re doing to help cities rediscover and reintegrate ecology. We’ll also introduce the newest members of the Biohabitats team.
We say this with every issue of Leaf Litter and we mean it: we want to know what you think. If you have thoughts or comments about urban ecology to share with us, please post them to our Rhizome blog or email our editor.