Urban Conservation

Written by Greta Nintzel, Volunteer Writer
Photograph by Flickr Creative Commons/Aaron

The concept of cities and nature often feel at odds. Cities, now home to the majority of us, are dense, buzzing, vital hubs of thought, culture and commerce. And on the flip side, they can be demanding, draining and isolating. Nature is often thought of as everything that is not human activity; plants, trees, rivers, other animals and insects. I’m not sure of thinking about cities in opposition to everything else is a good idea.

With this in mind, what is the value of urban greenspace? Well, can you imagine living in a city that doesn’t include nature? It’s impossible. Nature softens the sharp angles of the urban landscape and reminds us of life in a broad sense. It can reposition us and offers a less frantic pace in our often locomotive lifestyles. 

Where can you find Nature in a city? Parks, arboretums and waterways are obvious natural spaces. But why not just explore your yard? Or take a walk in your neighborhood and just notice nature in your daily routine?

Here are few experiences I’ve had in the city: watching a family of crows teaching their blue eyed fledgling how to fly in a field adjacent to my home, catching sight of a bald eagle overhead with a fresh caught salmon in its talons while trekking through a city park or observing a harbor seal surfacing and surveying the shoreline near the piers downtown.

What can we do to maintain balance in our urban landscapes? We can start civic conversations about engineering water catchment systems that slow down and filter storm runoff and ease the impact on waterways, continue utilizing the desolate features of urban infrastructure for plantings (like the live roof movement) and imagine greenways and parks as migratory routes for wildlife of all sorts as well as buffers for human activity. As individuals, we can provide native plantings in yards or pots or neighborhood gardens and consider vegetation other than grass for curb strips and thoroughfares.

For me, nature embodies the awe and wonder of existence. We are on the ride with it; in the changing seasons, the animal and insect migrations, and in groves of trees, magnificent pillars of life. Nature provides everything and accommodates us fully. As we continue to make more space for our humanness in cities, considering nature will keep our urban environments even more vibrant for all.

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