Today, close to half of the world’s population lives in metropolitan areas and it is projected that by 2030 about 20% more will flock to the cities and urban centers. The influx of people to these areas that are bustling with economic activities thereby providing better incomes and opportunities has had its impact on the environment. Thus was born the discipline now called the Urban Ecology. This emergent subfield in the study of ecology looks into the interaction between organisms and their environment in urban zones and cities.
It is often presumed that city living is characterized by unsustainable consumption levels, high carbon footprint activities and little regard for the ecosystem. However, by the combined force of necessity and idealism, Urban Ecology was born. Not very much unlike the bucolic and picturesque rural areas, urban communities can also support a diverse ecosystem and may be home to a number of adorable and helpful organisms. The key is to find ways in conserving resources that are necessary to support sustainable growth. This brings to mind potable water management and renewable energy harnessing, to name a few.
Popular areas within this field of study include urban architecture and planning that complements the natural environment, or at the very least, does not go against the natural flow of things. Green buildings that seek to minimize energy consumption or installed with renewable energy generators such solar panels and wind power harvesters are very popular. Solid waste management in urban centers is also one important concern, along with energy conservation, maintenance of air quality and water run-off collection systems.
Another interesting aspect is the desire to incorporate social concerns in developing and promoting urban ecology programs. The establishment of tree parks and walk ways can also provide for a healthy environment where urban folks can come together and socialize. This offers a refreshing and healthy alternative to the club scene and bright lights party zones. In the third world, authorities and non-profit organizations have found ways to utilize vacant lots and rooftops for home gardening, recycling and composting to support families struggling to survive in the city environment.
Giving urban dwellers the opportunity to experience nature through nature trips and interactive simulation activities are also popular programs. This is aimed at educating urban dwellers the importance of ecosystem care and conservation. Children’s programs that teach them to become more responsible urban stewards are key features.