Since centuries civilizations have thrived beside nature symbiotically, where development was a holistic function taking into account the surrounding environment and natural habitat. The settlements encouraged interaction of humans with biodiversity where trees became the nodal points of interactions in the form of chauk/ panchayat centre etc, ponds became water point which used to be communication hub for ladies and children alike at different points of time, the same pond was used by cattle and different animals for their uses also. The interesting point to be noted is that this never became a point of conflict for anyone, be it humans, animals or plants.
The present development has not been able to sustain this expedient practice of survival and living. Today, urban planning doesn’t take into account that the infringement in the name of metropolitan expansion is happening at the cost of natural regression and biodiversity degradation. In the last two decades, regular animals and birds like sparrows, peacocks, mongoose, monkeys, horses etc have all gone astray. I can still recall from my childhood where there were trees of pomegranates, mulberries, mangoes, blackberries, peach etc. besides our colony which were a home to numerous species of birds, retreat for many animals and leisure abode for us children.
I have noticed the development of new housings, colonies and even in urban design at city/sector level projects where authentic environment assessment is entirely missing. It should be noticed that the land prior to human intrusion is already host to n number of species and has a unique biodiversity of its own in the form of birds, animals, trees, shrubs, insects etc. There is a dire need of urban design which takes into account the importance of biodiversity. Moreover, simple interventions such as having water pot for birds at homes, dedicated cattle sheds in clusters, vibrant landscape including native trees and shrubs should be an inherent characteristic of designs. Urban planning should include green spaces which could be in the form of mini-forests within the city fabric which will lead to a holistic urban environment having a rich urban matrix comprising of varied biodiversity.
The existing natural heritage in the form of old trees, native herbs and shrubs, vivacious rocks and natural structures should be preserved and urban development should happen while coexisting with it. Inventories should be prepared to record the species of animals, birds, trees etc. present in the area prior to the development and it should be mandatory to preserve all of them while developing.
Urban development cannot happen at the cost of nature degradation. It has to be transformed into all-inclusive conscious environment regeneration. Architects, Ecologists and Biodiversity scientists have this responsibility and unique opportunity of converting this decade into the decade of Urban biodiversity development.