Urban ecology is the branch of ecology and studies disciplines like geography, anthropology, landscape ecology, engineering, economics and public health. It relates to the relationship of humankind with each other and its surroundings, including cities and urban landscapes. The concept refers to understanding how human and ecological processes coexist in the environment. This will help humans to become more sustainable and promote sustainable living. Urban ecology will see how the development and environment will sustain together without causing any harm to the environment. The need for urban ecology has arisen because of the growing population and their need for food, clothing and shelter. More land has to be used to make houses and buildings for people, but the cities should be so planned that it has the least effect on the environment. As per reports, 60 per cent of people will live in urban areas by the year 2030. The understanding of urban ecology will help in the planning, designing and monitoring cities as a dynamic ecosystem. The pattern of building cities has changed since past years. The cities are constructed in compliance with sustainable goals to make cities green and clean.
What is urban sprawl?
The environmental and social conditions of the society are based on the footprints of the contribution by the metropolitan cities, small towns and suburb areas. Researchers have found out one such development pattern which makes the cities more sustainable to live in the urban sprawl. Urban sprawl refers to the expansion of the geographic extent of the cities and towns with low density generally outside the urban centres. It can be referred to as the haphazard development of the cities. The scientists are of the view that urban sprawl harms the environment and ecosystem, including habitat, flora and fauna. Other consequences include inequality, increased air and water pollution, increased infrastructure cost, etc.
Causes of urban sprawl
Urban sprawl can be referred to as urbanisation only. People migrate from populated areas to the low-density regions, which will use more and more of undeveloped land. In turn, the cities and suburbs are getting overcrowded and harming the environment. But the popularity of urban sprawl is relatively high, and so we need to figure out the causes for urban sprawl. Let’s discuss some causes of urban sprawl which is being used as an aid to stop urban growth.
- The cost of land in the suburbs and outer areas is relatively low, which have made people settle in areas outside the urban cities.
- Roads and electricity are also being developed. There is an increased improvement in the infrastructure which is not available in all the areas and are in the process of development.
- People have increased family incomes and are now ready to spend more on travelling and commuting longer distances to work back and home.
- People want to live in areas which are green and have peace in their surroundings, which leads them to choose areas which are outwardly urban cities. The metropolitan cities are crowded with population, excessive pollution, long traffic jams, etc.
- Living in suburbs and outer areas will incur less house tax than living in urban areas.
- One of the main reasons for urban sprawl is the growing population. More and more population leads to spreading of the areas to farther and farther from the city.
- People prefer living in big houses and spaces which they will not get in urban cities which leads to urban sprawl. The consumers can get the land and space according to their preferences.
Impact of urban sprawl
After having discussed the causes of urban sprawl, it is essential to discuss the impact of the urban sprawl on the overall environment and ecology.
- Urban sprawl will lead to more pollution and traffic as people will commute by cars. The travel cost will also increase, and the chances of road accidents will also increase.
- It will lead to many health problems also. When people use transport for commuting at shorter distances, it will lead to obesity among people, issues of high blood pressure and other infectious diseases like chickenpox, malaria, etc.
- There will also be a problem of sanitisation as the area will be overcrowded because of the growing population and also because of improper planning, the issues of health and sanitation might occur.
- It can also cause environmental problems. When the outer areas are used for building residents, the wildlife living there will be in danger. Thus, it will affect the wildlife and its habitat to a great extent.
- In such areas, there are not many people nearby. So, they don’t have neighbours who cut them from society which can lead to depression and anxiety among people.
Solutions for restoring urban ecology
Urban sprawl has many negative impacts and is not at all sustainable as it has inferior planning and infrastructure. It has disturbed the ecological balance, and therefore it is necessary to find out ways to solve the problem of urban sprawl. Let’s find out some of the solutions to urban sprawl.
- The concept of new urbanisation will help in dealing with urban sprawl. When the focus is shifted from suburbs to the inner city, there will be less pollution and growth can take place without landscape destruction as in case of urban sprawl.
- Another solution is providing proper knowledge and information to people on the urban sprawling and what effects it has on the environment and health. This will help people in making rational decisions and consider living in urban areas.
- The idea of mixed growth or smart planning can be adopted here. The idea is to save more space and make living more sustainable. This can be done by making workplace, residential and commercial space in the same area.
Urban sprawling is going to stay here forever. We cannot completely rule out its existence because all of us have to live somewhere. But different people might have different views in this regard. Some might consider urban sprawling to be positive as it will lead to less crowd and help them lead a peaceful life. But it has many disadvantages attached to it. The environment has been adversely affected. The wildlife has been endangered, deforestation and pollution. So yes, there are both the sides to this and hence the decision lies on us as to what do we make out of it!