Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Culture and conservation confusion – people and parks in urban centres

Cities around the world are expanding at a rapid rate, as more and more people flock from urban areas in search of employment, better opportunities and a new life. Although many leave their cultural identity behind, many more bring their traditional beliefs and practices with them. Often, these practices rely on plants and animals which are found in natural areas. Given that cities have few natural areas, the impact on the plants and animals in these green spaces is on the increase as well.

These spaces provide recreational areas for wealthier urbanites, and a natural resource base for those who rely on these products during hard times. Medicinal plants, animal products and a variety of shellfish and fin-fish are heavily impacted in these spaces, and are facing population decline globally.

So how do we limit the impacts and reduce the effects that our growing city populations are having on these green spaces?

The most important strategy is to educate the users of these spaces, whether it is the dog walkers or outdoorsmen, or those harvesting medicinal plants or other natural products. Cities also need to provide additional services to poorer communities, through job creation, food security and social upliftment. It is only through reducing the need for people to negatively impact on the environment that we will create more sustainable urban parks.

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