Best practices for social change and environmental action

Wild in the city

In Habitat, Land Conservation, Public investment, Sustainability, Water on May 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Urban green space is an old idea that’s come full circle with a new twist.

The world has long appreciated the need for natural landscapes in its most populated places.  Consider the vision of Olmstead when he designed Central Park for New Yorkers, the sense of scale that informed the planners of Luxemborg Gardens in Paris, or the Swedish balance of humanity and nature that is evident in every grove and pasture of the vast Djurgården in Stockholm.

However, something went awry as populations migrated from the planet’s rural areas to create the new megalopolises of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The practical need for housing and infrastructure overwhelmed urban planners in the developing nations.  At the same time, economic forces and demographic shifts caused many cities in the more prosperous nations to let their parks and public places fall into blight. All the while, the human need for green space in the cities has grown more urgent than ever.

UN-HABITAT has done the world a great service by calling attention to this problem in its recent proclamation: Sustainable urban development: the right and access to the city reflected in quality urban public spaces.

The places it describes may not be truly “wild” in the literal sense, but they can offer urbanites the essence of wilderness.  As such, they are a basic requirement for quality of life and a fundamental element of vibrant city culture.

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