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Biophilic cities lead the way to urban sustainability

The biophilic cities network is part of the global movement towards green cities. By innovative, multi-sensory driven design and green architecture, these cities are forging a symbiotic relationship with nature.

“We need density but we also need connections to nature,” said University of Virginia professor Timothy Beatley during an event at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) to celebrate D.C.’s successful inclusion in the Biophilic Cities Network, a group of leading cities pushing for rich, nature-filled experiences in daily urban life. The network is designed to improve knowledge-sharing among cities that seek to merge the built and natural environments. Beatley explained how biophilic cities forge deeper, more meaningful connections with nature, which in turn increase social connections and community resilience.

One of the cities involved in the network, Singapore, has changed its tagline from “garden city” to “the city in a garden”, highlighting its commitment to becoming greener. To achieve this goal, Singapore issued a landscape replacement policy that ensures that any green spaces removed when building must be replaced during the process. Developers often go the extra mile and double or triple the green space they displaced by providing ample rooftop gardens. Melbourne, Australia has pledged to double its tree canopy by 2040. “They are re-imagining the idea of the city in a forest. It’s a multi-scale investment in nature — from the rooftop to the bio-region and everywhere in between.”

A number of cities are forging deeper connections to urban wildlife, too. In Bangalore, there is the “Slender Loris” project that engages citizen scientists in nocturnal journeys through the city to meet these shy creatures. Austin, Texas has gone completely batty, in a good way, by gathering to do bat-watching. In St. Louis, there are Milkweeds for Monarchs, which has resulted in 250 new butterfly gardens. San Francisco will soon mandate the use of bird-friendly building facades. And in Wellington, city officials are investing in predator-proof fencing in many areas with the goal of “bringing birdsong back.”

“Biophilic experiences are multi-sensory. Animal sounds can reanimate our cities. People want more nature; they want to hear birdsong in their neighborhoods,” said Beatley.

 

Source: The Dirt

Photo: inhabitat

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