Over the past 50 years, biodiversity loss has taken place at an unprecedented scale driven by extraordinary change in land and sea use and the overexploitation of natural resources.
In an increasingly urbanized world, natural habitats have been converted to urban areas at an alarming rate. Historically, cities have posed a threat to biodiversity and natural ecosystems – but they can also be a part of the solution.
Here are 10 reasons why local governments should take action to promote urban biodiversity:
1. Protect the health of natural ecosystems
Protected green areas and water bodies provide critical ecosystem services. Cities can preserve biodiversity by creating green corridors and linear parks that connect green spaces within the city, supporting healthy biodiversity and maintaining these important ecosystems.
2. Improve air quality
Due to the intense use of fossil fuels in automotive vehicles, air quality is a challenge in many cities and a priority for many local governments. Biodiversity can help improve air quality by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen, reducing the incidence of respiratory problems such as asthma.
3. Ensure higher quality and availability of water in aquifers and reservoirs
By preserving biodiversity in cities, cities can reduce asphalted areas and increase permeable stretches. As a result, rainwater is able to penetrate the soil and gradually reach aquifers and reservoirs. Roots also function as a natural filter, reducing the amount of sediment and impurities that arrive in the reservoirs.
4. Protect from landslides and reduce risk of erosion
Degraded areas that have lost their vegetation cover are exposed and vulnerable to direct rain and strong winds. These meteorological events impoverish the soil through leaching, displace sediments and destabilize slopes, increasing the risk of landslides. By preserving biodiversity in risky places, we reduce these impacts and guarantee better soil quality and stability.
5. Minimize the risk of extreme events
Biodiversity is extremely important for climate regulation. The roots of the plants allow greater water infiltration in the soil and help retain moisture in the soil over time, and the transpiration of the leaves helps in the formation of rain clouds and increases the humidity of the air. These factors, among many others, can help mitigate extreme events such as droughts, fires and floods.
6. Support sustainable urban food systems
Several animals, mainly insects such as bees, are responsible for pollination. This process guarantees the production of fruits, seeds and other foods that can be consumed by both wild animals and people. Thus, pollination ensures the sustainability of agroforestry, green belts and urban gardens, essential to feed the large number of people living in cities.
7. Prevent disease and regulate poisonous animals
By preserving biodiversity, we also preserve trophic chains. In this way, predatory animals can control the population of animals that present risks to human health. For example, fish are predators of mosquito larvae and skunks are known to prey on scorpions.
8. Promote thermal comfort
The presence of biodiversity, especially trees with leafy tops, promotes milder temperatures and greater air humidity, ensuring thermal comfort and a greater sense of well-being.
9. Promote quality of life and wellness
We know that outdoor activities and living with other people are essential to human development and well-being. By preserving biodiversity, cities can enable the creation of safe and healthy spaces for leisure and social activities.
10. Raise awareness about coexistence with other living beings
Currently more than 50 percent of the world population lives in cities. It is also in this space that decisions that directly impact our daily lives occur. Therefore, it is important to promote an environment of harmonious coexistence with biodiversity in order to reinforce its importance for human well-being.
Read more about why #biodiversitymatters