“Ours has become a planet of urban dwellers in a very short time. Already, over half of humanity lives in urban areas. Two thirds will do so in the lifetimes of most people now living on Earth.
“This trend is already having profound consequences for the environment and for people. Everywhere nature is being squeezed and people are losing contact with it. The implications are many and diverse, but they make the conservation of nature ever more urgent and often more difficult to deliver."
“The wildest and remotest places on Earth, the most imperiled species on Earth, the chain of life sustaining human life on Earth will be protected only if urban people care about nature.
… Conservationists must take urban people and urban places much more seriously. Unless they do so, they will struggle for relevance in the years to come.”
From Urban Protected Areas.
The reasons and the urgency
Conservationists must pay a lot better attention to urban people, urban places, and urban institutions, because:
1. Urban people need urban nature for their health & wellbeing
2. Conservation globally depends on urban voters, donors & communicators
3. Urban people are more likely to support conservation when they appreciate their own region’s nature, history & culture
4. Urban regions are often rich in native habitats & species
5. Urban nature bolsters resilence to climate change & natural disasters
6. Urban sprawl destroys & fragments habitat
7. Urban ports & airports are entry points for the illegal wildlife trade & invasive alien species
8. Urban pollution & urban demands on natural resources degrade surrounding ecosystems
These and other reasons are elaborated in the IUCN publication Urban Protected Areas.
Urban conservation actors include a range of non-governmental organizations, as well as national, sub-national, and local authorities. “Urban,” as we use it, includes suburban and peri-urban.