Nature in the city

A while ago NRC Handelsblad published an interesting article on nature in the city. Animals appear to feel much more at home in the city than people might think. Modern cities are full with all kinds of animal species. People, animals and plants have the same preference for places to settle down. And urbanisation often takes place on so-called biodiversity hotspots, which are rich in natural resources. According to studies the species in the city, especially on the city edges, are sometimes even larger than on the countryside.

People often have an outdated image of the city consisting only concrete mass. This should be adjusted, since the city consists of many different kinds of species and animals. Below are five reasons why we see more and more animals in the city:

1. Cities are expanding
Cities are expanding over the living areas of animals. Therefore it is more likely that animal species will appear within the city boundaries, without having moved itself. The grass snake in IJburg (Amsterdam) have always lived at the Diemerzeedijk, even before the area was transformed into a city discrict.

2. The city has more to offer than the countryside
Because of more intensive agriculture rural areas are impoverishing. And a monotonous landscape is related to a limited natural variety. In cities on the other hand, you will find a mosaic of landscapes, such as parks and (allotments) gardens.

3. People travel more
People take their pets or animals consciously or unconsciously along on their (inter)national travels. And we make those trips further and more often. This is how the rose-ringed parakeet came to The Netherlands, just like the crayfish. Especially in trading nodes exotic species are common. Did you know that in Rotterdam seven species of turtles are crawling around?

4. Environmental laws have become more strict
Environmental laws in Europe and North America have become more strict. This had lead the last decades to an increasingly better water, air and soil quality. In the Netherlands, the rivers Rhine and the Meuse become much cleaner over the last 25 years.

5. City is a snack bar
The city is a public snack bar. Without breadcrumbs the living range of house sparrows and blackbirds will considerably be smaller. They are especially looking for food at snack bars and restaurants.

This can mean that where at first the discipline of landscape architecture was mostly avoiding urban areas, the value of landscape and landscape design in urban areas becomes of increasing importance. It contributes to the ecosystem of the city, which improves the quality of life for the city as a whole and its residents!

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