Urbanization threatening biodiversity

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THE BIODIVERSITY and the urbanization equation is not an enigma for both social and life scientists. The impacts of urbanization on biodiversity are unremitting and relentless. The urbanization is the rise in the proportion of people living in urban areas, and the ways in which each society adapts to deal with this change.

The world is facing intensified upsurge in urbanization and has therefore caused multifaceted impacts on biodiversity, environment, and the society etc. It is said that by year 2050, the world will have undergone fastest and the largest period of urban expansion in the human history. Urbanization has also shaken the land of Pakistan. The increase in migration of people from countryside to cities for livelihood sake has rapidly increased the population of cities in Pakistan thus stimulating the need of urban development and expansion of cities. According to the World Bank Report the level of urbanization in Pakistan is highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030.

Biodiversity is source of food, medicine, clean water, oxygen and many things. Cities are the primary consumers of the biodiversity. This asserts a great impact on biodiversity and due to increasing urbanization, demand of people is also increasing at alarming rate. People also are disconnecting themselves from nature and are unaware of the sources from where their food, water comes from. There is a dire need to restore that connection in order to dispense the sense of realization and responsibility amongst dwellers of cities.

Expansion of cities and urbanization is taking place at rapid pace to accommodate needs of population growth, ecological communities and natural habitats of species are destroyed to create buildings or other infrastructure which causes elimination of localized regional ecosystem. Due to the obliteration of natural habitats, the species are no longer able to thrive and reproduce at same rate as before because they remain underprivileged to the fundamental living conditions that nature offers them. Apart from destruction of natural habitats of species another alarming aspect is the fragmentation of habitats that is said to be the transformation of a larger habitat into isolated smaller habitats due to urbanization. Although, the construction of roads and infrastructure are remnant patches of original habitat but biodiversity is startlingly reduced because of habitat fragmentation.

Another frightening impact of urbanization on biodiversity is the biotic homogenization which is the replacement of non-native invasive species. Urbanization seriously haunts local species and causes immense loss to native species as invasive species take most of food and living resources of native species. So, the increase of number of invasive species due to urbanization decreases the number of native species and hence biodiversity is reduced.

The situation is certainly grim but not the end of the road as there are plenty of opportunities to take benefit from the urbanization scenario. Cities are centers of culture and there is opportunity to introduce a new paradigm to people to relate themselves with nature. The structure of the cities has to be changed and infrastructure development must be compatible with environment so to minimize its impacts on biodiversity as well. Greenhouse gases (GHG) emission must be controlled in cities as they are the main contributor as compared to rural areas. More green space must be added to cities by plantation so that water could infiltrate to the soil. In order to protect wildlife, green corridors must be introduced in cities located near mountains or forests.

The cities are also supposed to be responsible in terms of their consumptions so to improve the footprints of biodiversity not only in the vicinities but across the country. It is well known fact that since the most of the decisions regarding the fate of biodiversity is taken at local level therefore cities must be engaging in terms of conservation of biodiversity.

Cities should be engaging with each other to lessen the adverse impacts on biodiversity; these could be situated disproportionately in areas of naturally occurring high biodiversity. City planners and urban foresters will have opportunity to use their skill to put ecological perspectives into their management roles. The revised management plans could be introduced to accommodate the ecological needs and preserve biodiversity.

A collective role of communities, individuals, and organizations must be instigated by holistic approach so that biodiversity friendly urbanization could be modeled for protection of biodiversity and take benefit from this bonanza of nature that offers benefit to all.

The author is associated with Technology Time as Editorial Assistant. He can be reached at ahsan@technologytimes.pk


Published in: Volume 06 Issue 20

Short Link: http://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=13334