Including developers and businesses for more biodiverse cities

Adaptation Climate Action 3 min read , July 24, 2019

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You're the municipality's responsible for nature and environment in your city, and you're aware of the importance of sustaining biodiversity. 🦋 You know about the massive loss of biodiversity worldwide and you really want to have an impact ...
But when a new city building is developed, real estate developers and environmentalist organisations just seem like they're in a cats and dogs fight. How can you turn that into a proactive dialogue that benefits both inhabitants and nature?
Learn how the power of design and dialogue can help. 👇

Why don't we have more biodiverse cities? 🏘

The problem of low biodiversity in cities isn't new. People need structures, features and facilities in which they can live and work. This means that the landscape has been transformed into a concrete environment with less room for nature in many cases. Traditionally, many features of the urban environment haven't been planned for hosting both people and biodiversity.

Acting on including biodiversity in your city unveils a new challenge : when a new construction project is being developed, engaging with different actors and interests seems impossible. The technical language of real estate developers often can't be understood by ecologists, and the other way around.

Some inhabitants may even perceive biodiversity as something negative. Having a garden with beautiful flowers probably sounds more appealing than a swamp with insects in it, right? Biodiversity is often valued on a basis of charismatic species, but there are many more species equally important for a healthy ecosystem.

The power of design 💡

Design is at the core of the transformation of any landscape. A good design process can make the difference between a good and an amazing project. Use and promote it within your environment with these concrete pointers :

  • Ask for the support from other city departments when a new project is proposed. Ask questions : how is biodiversity included here? Collaboration is key for bringing biodiversity on the agenda.
  • Think about ways to re-design existing buildings and spaces to turn them into biodiverse places. For example, a system that can collect and filter water from highways can be a great place for nature (and it also brings flood resilience, by the way).
  • When starting a new development project, consider minimum criteria for achieving a biodiverse landscape. In practice, this means planning green corridors for connecting parks, bioswales (water reservoirs) and other green elements of the city. Doing it as part of an ongoing plan is easier than having to refurbish a new building.
  • Green is good, but native green is great. When considering new green areas, mind the natural distribution and adaptability of species. Native species offer the extra advantage of being adapted to local conditions, which is important for climate change adaptation.
The HOLD system deployed. Credits: Sussanah Drake

The power of dialogue 💬

The concept of biodiversity is very abstract and complex. Having the right conversations with people will make sure everybody understands. Have a look at some points for reflection:

  • Make a call to local, regional or international NGO's to receive concrete advices on how to make old and new buildings biodiversity-friendly. Doesn't sound very realistic? Check the collaboration between a real estate company and an environmental NGO in France.
  • Encourage companies to adopt biodiversity measures and metrics according to their operations. For example, show companies in the construction sector some concrete tips for how they can include more biodiversity in their projects. A great example is the ASAP guide (As Sustainable As Possible), in which a private company voluntarily defines its own goals for sustainability.
  • Promote education on biodiversity at different scales. It sounds very obvious, but most citizens have no clue what biodiversity is and why it's important to preserve it. Change this by organizing info sessions with the future inhabitants of a city building or by promoting funny activities in schools.

We know acting on biodiversity is a complex task, but there are ways to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In FutureproofedCities you can easily plan, organize and keep track of concrete measures. Those measures can also be linked to concrete actions, so that you start acting right now. 🙌

Sources: Dlandstudio, Biodiversite et Bati, inspiration from The Nature of Cities Summit.

📰 Curious to get even more inspiration for making your city green again? Have a look at our article about climate actions for nature in cities.

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