What is Urban Nature?
Broadly speaking all the living and non-living things that exist on this earth are part of nature. Humans are also part of nature. From the indigenous people of Wulgurukaba and Bindal peoples who have lived in the Townsville region sustainably for thousands of years to the modern day Townsvillians living in a very urbanised environment with changing and competing needs of a modern city, we are still part of this ever-changing urban nature ecology. Townsville as the largest Tropical city in Australia is uniquely situated close to environmentally important natural assets including: the Tropical Savanna Grasslands, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Areas, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Areas as well as Bowling Green National Park to name just a few. Furthermore, there are bushlands, creeks, rivers and waterways that have survived as natural areas, which are now part of our urban environment.
Urban nature is thus simultaneous to nature in the urban areas or nature in the city. Therefore, urban nature refers to all of our bushlands, hills, creeks, rivers and waterways – the biological, ecological and the physical environments, the flora and fauna that have survived, adapted and persisted in this urban landscape despite of the urban development and the changes that are continuously happening around them. These pieces of nature within our urbanised landscape have experienced ongoing pressures from urban development, from population growth, from pollution, weed invasions and other human related activities.
Why Protect Urban Nature?
The city of Townsville is growing in population and our suburbs are getting extended, new ones are being developed and with these come pressure for housing, greater urbanisation and extensions to existing transport networks. With increasing urbanisation there is also increasing pressures put on our natural environment. Nature within and outside of our urban areas are being affected by these urbanisation processes often resulting in habitat shrinkages, isolation and destruction. A growing city also needs to maintain its attractiveness and livability and one way of doing this is to ensure we keep and enhance our natural assets as well as bring back nature to the city through revegetation projects, enhancing our riparian areas, conserving our bushlands as well as by planting local native plant species in our gardens and backyards.
Through the Urban Nature Program we are taking nature conservation from the pristine and distance environmental icons to our suburban creeks and bushlands because nature conservation is not only limited to ensuring the protection of our pristine natural assets, it is also about ensuring that we conserve and maintain as much of the natural areas within our urban areas – it is a whole ecosystem conservation. Those patches of bushlands, creeks and riparian areas scattered across our city and suburbs are not empty lands waiting to be developed, they represent our “Green Infrastructure” the green lungs of our city providing essential services such as keeping the air clean and cool, reducing the urban heat island effects, preventing erosion, carbon sequestration, providing habitat and refuge for our local flora and fauna as well as places for recreation (e.g. bushwalking, fishing, sport, picnic and relaxation) to residents. Nature conservation is also about people, living and wellbeing. Thus by bringing nature conservation to the city and suburbs we are also conserving the interconnections between human and nature, between urban dwellers and the environment. Urban Nature conservation iniatives are allowing our young generations to enjoy and connect with nature through fun and educational environmental activities.
How Did the Urban Nature Program Come About?
In 2002, Townsville City Council initiated the Greening Townsville Program with the aim of establishing green corridors and restoring natural areas and habitat to create green and natural areas hubs around the city. The aim of planting 10,000 local native trees annually was successfully achieved year after year with the help of local businesses, community groups and residents. Local native plants giveaway became a regular and permanent feature of many community fun days and events where residents can take away a local native species and plant it in their own gardens.
The Urban Nature Program has been initiated on the back of the success of Greening Townsville Program. Townsville City Council’s Urban Nature Program is an initiative dedicated to bringing nature conservation and activities to the urban areas, to where we all live and work. Studies have shown that improving the environment we live in can bring about positive changes to our well-being, promote community sense of place and socio-cultural linkages and interaction between urban areas and create community stewardship of our local environment. Importantly, the initiatives of Urban Nature Program also help to achieve conservation outcomes such as restoration of urban habitats and biodiversity through increased in local vegetation coverage, protection of our local wildlife and cleaner air and water quality.
Urban Nature Program also provides opportunities for residents both young and old to be involved in conservation activities to enhance local habitats, local creeks and nature in Townsville in a fun and family friendly ways. Through these activities we also hope to foster and raise awareness of the values of our local habitats, our bushland areas and our local native flora and fauna.
Urban Nature Initiatives
• Community Greening Program
• Adopt a Local Native - Life in the Dry Tropics
• Green Tree Ants – Nature and Biodiversity Teaching Resources
• School Shade Tree Program
For more information please contact Integrated Sustainability Services on 1300 878 001 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org