Many of our towns and cities have evolved with high-density housing close to the centres of employment and “leafy suburbs” where large allotments have space for trees and gardens. This low-density suburban housing has created the great sprawl of our cities, out into the farmlands and bush around our cities. In response, inner suburbs have been changing to higher density housing and apartments.
Whether a garden is in the country, a town or suburb, or even an apartment with a balcony or rooftop, it will have at least some space to create a garden. And any garden will provide a place for plants and animals, and for all the environmental and personal benefits that come with even the simplest natural ecosystems. Every garden is a small ecosystem with its sun (and pollution) catching leafy plants and a variety of insects and spiders and other creatures that maintain the health of your each patch. Native plants will encourage a wider range of native animals, and with more trees and shrubs will come more birds and mammals.
As more and more people create wildlife habitat and healthy ecosystems - in our own personal spaces and in our many community parks and gardens (see Urban Parks) – each little patch will become a part of a much larger matrix of natural ecosystems across our urban areas. This matrix of patches will:
create, retain and enhance natural habitat for all the local plants and animals - and people. Even some threatened species might find a home in this environment.
provide stepping stones and corridors for movement of species – including people.
enhance the natural ecological processes needed for healthy urban ecosystems – and healthy lives.
Things really worth doing - you can do now…
1. Create your own wildlife garden with a diversity of native plants and structures such as logs, hollows and insect hotels to attract a diversity of animals. You will benefit in so many ways from your garden, and you will become part of the larger matrix of gardens in your area – and how good does that feel? There are some great organisations to help you do this:
2. Read how biodiversity needs to be seen as an opportunity and a valued resource to be preserved and maximised at all stages of urban design and planning - Georgia Garrard, Nicholas Williams and Sarah Bekessy ‘Here’s how to design cities where people and nature can both flourish‘ The Conversation 24 October 2018
3. Join other local groups (including friends groups – see Urban Parks) to create conversations around wildlife gardens, share plants and help each other make a difference.
4. Reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save energy used for heating by 20–50% by planting trees in the right place near your house. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. 2016. Benefits of Urban Trees.