This article was originally published on nature


“More than half of the world’s population now live in urban areas, and both the proportion and numbers continue to grow. In future, we will require drastically different ways of planning, building and governing cities.

Since at least the 1970s, researchers have been doing long-term studies to understand how cities alter ecosystems. Now, the lens is on what ecology can do for cities. The ecosystem approach incorporates nature into urban settings to make them more sustainable, liveable and resilient, and means managing cities themselves as ecosystems: intricately connected, dynamic subsystems of social, built and natural components. The approach encompasses concepts such as green infrastructure, nature-based solutions (adopting sustainable practices that harness the natural world) and ecosystem-based adaptation (managing natural ecosystems to help cities face climate change).

One of many compelling demonstration projects includes the Vertical Forest (Bosco Verticale) in Milan, Italy. There, more than 900 trees and thousands of shrubs and other flora have been planted on the facades of two residential towers to improve air quality and carbon storage. The benefits have been estimated as equalling those offered by 2 hectares of natural forest. Meanwhile, ‘sponge cities’ are being built across China to mitigate increasingly frequent and severe flooding. Roofs are being covered with vegetation, wetlands restored and roads and other spaces designed with permeable surfaces. Urban managers hope that these will absorb enough rainwater to prevent major floods…

Read on at: nature.