Animals Like Green Space in Cities—and That’s a Problem. Parks, green roofs, and urban trees all welcome animals, but people have to learn how to share their living space, experts say.
By Gabe Bullard
PUBLISHED APRIL 20, 2016
Wild Cities: About two-thirds of all people will live in urban areas by 2030—and we won't be alone. A veritable menagerie of wild animals is also taking a liking to city living.
The Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, D.C., had a bird problem.
The animals were trying to fly into the building’s atrium, hitting the glass around it, and dying. People found about five dead birds a week in front of the building, according to city officials.
Turned out there was a simple solution: keeping the lights off at night.
This kind of friction between humans and animals in cities is common. Elsewhere in D.C., a bus hit a snowy owl (it survived, only to be killed by a car months later in Minnesota). In New York City, a coyote climbed onto a bar roof, distressing some residents. And in March, P-22, a mountain lion living near Los Angeles may have killed a zoo koala.
There are many explanations for how and why animals end up in cities, but more and more we are inviting them. The issue is, urbanites aren’t the best hosts.
Now, to protect urban wildlife, it’s our turn to adapt.
HOW GREEN WAS MY ALLEY Ironically, many of these encounters between humans and animals are caused by our love and appreciation for nature.
As people move to cities—part of a global urbanization trend—local governments are looking for ways to attract youths who would’ve gone to the suburbs 50 years ago.
“When you move to a neighborhood, you want your latte, you want to be close to [public transit], and you want a park,” says Stella Tarnay, an urban planner and co-founder of Biophilic DC, a group that works to make cities better habitats for animals and people.
And it goes beyond maintaining existing parks. To please residents and to combat climate change, cities and civic organizations are planting more trees and turning unused spaces into parks and meadows. (Read how urban parks are bringing nature closer to home.)
Meanwhile, builders are installing native landscaping and green roofs to keep cool in every sense of the word. All this, combined with efforts to bring cities into compliance with clean water and air laws, has made urban areas much more habitable for animals.
“We’re seeing things we haven’t seen in a long time,” says Tommy Wells, director of D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment.
That includes nesting bald eagles, long-eared brown bats, and monarch butterflies, which are attracted to the milkweed planted outside of Wells’s office.
Many of these animals still have fragile populations: The District hosts 205 species that need protection—that's 90 species more than a decade ago.
Read more at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160420-green-cities-design-animals-architecture-urban0/