Thursday, March 26, 2015

Green Cities Key to Creating Oasis for Wildlife

Los Angeles, CA (March 13, 2015) – While cities are not ideal wildlife habitat, they are increasingly the only habitat. What is needed to make room for wildlife in an increasingly urbanized world? A recent column by author Richard Conniff shares seven ways to make cities more livable for people–and wildlife. No surprise, most of these involve more trees and greenspace.

According to Conniff, “The rapid urbanization of the Earth is the dominant movement of this century, and the sprawling, unplanned growth of cities and suburbs tends to leave behind patches of greenery only by accident—a few neglected parks, some street trees here and there, and the occasional sliver of protected land.”
Here are his seven ways to create an urban oasis for wildlife:
Plan for Green Space
Add some trees along a street, and you’ve got someplace where birds can rest or roost. Add a park at the end of that street, even a small one, and now you’ve got a spot where migrating birds can stop and eat on their way to or from their breeding grounds. Even adding just 150 square meters of green space—that’s 10 parking spaces—will bring one additional bird species into a neighborhood, according to a 2013 study by urban greening specialist Paige Warren at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst.
Make those Green Spaces Connect
Multiple parks or gardens that are connected make for exponentially better habitat. Connectivity is important for green spaces at the neighborhood scale, according to Madhusudan Katti, an ecologist at California State University, Fresno. For instance, “canopy corridors” created by street trees help squirrels to move safely from one park to another. For animals that can fly, like birds and bees, connectivity may be less about physical connection than the proximity of green spaces, Warren said.
Plant for Wildlife
If you’ve got a local species you’re worried about, plant the species it needs to breed or feed. Monarch butterflies, for instance, require milkweed. Birds love oak trees (because they’re home to so many juicy caterpillars). Wherever you live, native plants are the key ingredient for native species. Avoid the exotics, especially the ones, such as barberry and purple loosestrife, that spread rapidly and wreak havoc on surrounding ecosystems. “Cities are a nexus for introduction” of invasive species, said Paige.