Today approximately half of the population is living in cities or planning to stay there at least. The reports also suggest that by the year 2030, the people of cities will increase by 2 billion. These statistics are enough to understand the trend of urbanisation taking over and the consequences it has had and is still having. Access to clean drinking water, breathable air, fertile soil is all essential to sustain and survive. Meeting all such demands have taken a toll on the environment and cities are now on the verge of encroachment.
It, therefore, becomes inevitable to understand the interaction between the humans living in cities and the urban landscape. This concept is known as urban ecology. Urban ecology is the study of human nature and its surroundings like production, transport, construction, housing, etc. it helps in understanding the working of the urban systems and how to improve the condition of the urban environment.
Importance of urban ecology
The concept of urban ecology helps in understanding how the needs of the humans living in the cities can be met without disturbing or harming the environment. It also helps in analysing the impact of human activities on the ecology. The way cities are designed plays a significant role as it determines the extent to which human needs can be fulfilled sustainably. With the increased demand for food, shelter and water, carbon emissions, excessive use of natural resources, all this calls for a system where a balance can be maintained, and ecology can be restored. The cities need to become more eco- friendly and sustainable to fulfil the goal of achieving a sustainable environment.
Restoring urban ecology
Investing in the ecological infrastructure of the cities is imperative. Development of rivers, lakes, wells, green spaces will be beneficial from both economic and social points of view. Investing in green and blue infrastructure will help the cities meet their goals of sustainable development. The green and blue infrastructure services are quite famous and in demand. They help to move one step towards sustainability. The services provided by the green and blue infrastructure are-
- The construction of parks and open areas to allow for more greenery around the city. This will also help in reducing the heat and save energy. It will help reduce the carbon footprint and emissions. The green spaces help in reducing pollution and improve air quality. It also provides health benefits and has reduced the mortality rates significantly. Such kind of infrastructure will also help in restoring biodiversity and protect the plant and animal species.
Ways to make cities more sustainable and friendly
Urbanisation has brought with itself some set of advantages like technological advancement, more workforce, increased productivity and transport efficiency. So, cities must be encouraged to make the most of it which requires an approach to make cities more healthy, vivacious and cleaner for living.
- The rapid increase in population has brought more land under use. This is disturbing the infrastructure. A solution like repurposing the land that means getting it into many uses as per the situation. This will help in efficiently utilising the space. The buildings to be designed in such a way that they can be programmed to switch functions.
- Planting trees has always been on top to promote healthy and greener living. Using social media and creating awareness about the innumerable benefits the trees can have. The campaign asks the individuals to adopt a plant and give it a name and share the information via social media.
- The idea of spaces has become significantly diversified these days. A spare area can be used for many different purposes. Using it only for one purpose might not be very beneficial. Rather using the space effectively by sharing the facilities with others. This helps in reducing environmental consumption to a great extent. Carpool, lodging and rental being the more common ones.
- To promote better and smart cities, transport should also be wise. The use of bicycles instead of cars and two-wheelers will help reduce pollution. Making fuel-free cars and using transport that runs on electricity. The leading example in this regard is Tesla, who is making cars and vehicles that run on electricity. The concept of self-driven cars is also popular and is practised in many cities, and following the footsteps, the automobile industry can be reshaped, and sustainability can be ensured.
- For promoting eco- friendly and sustainable cities, it is also essential that the waste is recycled in an effective and efficient way. It should be disposed of in the dustbins made for the collection of different types of garbage. Another thing that can be done is to cut the use of plastic and move towards the use of eco- friendly jute paper bags. The plastic is dumped in the ground, and it doesn’t dissolve and creates problems for the earth. The water is getting populated as people leave plastic here and there. Therefore, one of the sustainable trends is to ban the use of plastics and encourage the use of paper and jute bags.
- The cities can become more sustainable by producing food locally and encouraging plant-based food among people. It will help in reducing the spillage caused while resourcing food from outside. It will also help individuals connect with the local communities and understand the importance of locally grown food.
- Carbon capture is also a very sustainable approach where the carbon emissions are captured and used for different purposes like manufacturing, horticulture, etc. the use of energy is also controlled efficiently by utilising the Cogeneration facilities which takes up the waste heat from the electricity and uses it for heating or cooling buildings.
- With people switching towards the use of Led lights, the information sensors can be easily used to help monitor traffic, reduce crime and gather air- quality data. The information sensors are formed by connecting light poles.
It becomes vital to understand that for people to be healthy, lively and happy, the city needs to follow sustainability goals. The infrastructure and planning should be such that humans needs and demands are met without sacrificing for future generations and keeping in mind the factor of sustainability and cleaner cities.