As a city planner in training we learn the methods and processes used to develop policy, zoning code, and the goals that define a city. Yet throughout this training I think the bigger picture can be lost. How does a city fit into the grander scheme of nature? How can we meet the needs of both humans, animals, and plants?
Because without nature, cities are a mass of cement, glass, and metal.
This is where the theory of biophilia comes in, this theory states that humans innately need and desire nature. I believe this to be true from my own experience. The sight, sounds, smell, and touch of nature make this world alive. This begs the consideration: are we not also part of nature. We may have clouded our connection with years of living indoor and technology, but we evolved from nature, our wild past cannot be forgotten.
These thoughts came to mind as I was on a bike ride this afternoon, pedaling along the San Lorenzo river. The river runs through the heart of the city, yet is surrounded by a diversity of plants and most likely animals even if didn’t spot any. Different trees, bushes, grasses, and others I have no name for. This beautiful scene of a natural environment in the middle of a city really struck me.
The scene reminded me that my purpose as a planner is to take all life into account. Just because we humans can speak, plan, and create does not mean that we are above other species. We are all nature, thus all of nature must be considered.
When we plan for biodiversity, we also benefit humanity. The two are inextricably linked. Yet I also understand that it can be difficult for communities to plan with biodiversity in mind when there are so many competing issues. However, I believe that by seeking ways to improve communities in terms of agriculture, economy, resource management, energy sources, etc. we protect nature and biodiversity.