WHY URBAN ECOLOGY?
This is an urban world. I mean, since 2008, more than half of all people have lived in cities – and by 2050 – we expect that proportion to reach some 70 %. Of course, urbanisation often benefits human wellbeing, like via improved access to sanitation, potable water, healthcare, education and jobs. It can even help us use resources more efficiently and preserve more intact habitat for biodiversity, if it’s done right. But more often, it has negative environmental impacts. After all, cities (or activities elsewhere that ultimately support urban demand) generate the bulk of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions. And urbanisation is a major driver of the sixth extinction.
So, doing urban-ecology research aligns well with what drives everything I do – the desire to help solve the environmental crisis. And my agenda asks three separate but related big questions.
- What are the biotic impacts of urbanisation?
- How does urbanisation alter human-Nature relationships and conservation behaviours?
- What ecosystem services do urban animals render?
The outputs, combined, can identify strategies to mitigate the effects of urbanisation on biodiversity, identify the human obstacles to conserving it and convince people that doing so is worthwhile. But answering these questions requires considerable interdisciplinarity and often involves collaborating with researchers whose expertise complements mine.