Resilience of Urban Ecosystem | By: Priyasha Shrestha

Picture1The world is prone to disturbances: many are natural (volcanoes,floods, earthquakes, etc.) and others are man-made (climate change, fires, deforestation, desertificaion, etc.). Urban ecosystems, whichcomprise of natural and man-made systems, must display an extent of resilience to these disturbances to avoid shifting to another state.

In 2015, there were two massive earthquakes in Nepal, which not only shook the ground, but also the lives of people, by destroying property, livelihoods, and human and ecological communities. In such circumstances, if there had been planned open spaces linked together by multi-modal networks in place, and disaster response functions designed in the buildings, infrastructure and public spaces, then maybe so many casualties would not have occurred. If planning initiatives had taken into consideration risk locations and improvised density according to that, then maybe Kathmandu would have had a much easier time recuperating from the loss of life, livelihood and infrastructure. Thus, the concept of resilience is of substantial importance in urban planning and landscape considerations.

Human activities are putting critical habitats at risk. Activities such as resource mining, deforestation, pollution, uncontrolled urbanization, are all causing the loss of habitats and the shift of stable ecosystem states to other homogenized states lacking in diversity and reduced ecosystem functions. Rise in sea levels due to increase in global temperature is one of the many crucial issues that requires resilience planning. Coastal development in places such as Florida, are beingput at risk because of excessive flooding and storm surges that occurdue to the rising sea levels. In such places, planning that allows for preparedness to tackle such disturbances is necessary. Landscape onsiderations such as retaining coastal wetlands for protection against rising water levels, and habitat corridors that allow the movement ofthese wetland flora and fauna inland, as well as well-planned escaperoutes and adaptation mechanisms are all examples of resilience planning.

As landscape architects, we understand the nature and importanceof critical interactions between the different components of theecosystem. With this understanding and with the power to create meaningful public open spaces we can create places that respond tothe context, ecology and the needs of the people. The field of landscapearchitecture has the strength to be at the forefront of advocating for sustainability and resilience, and in tackling multi-scale problems such as climate change, habitat loss, social inequity in public spaces, and diminishing natural resources. As a future landscape architect, I plan on striving towards environmental conservation, socio-ecologicalresilience, and cultural sensibility in my design and planning efforts, and strive to extend awareness of the field across scales and borders.I believe that resilience thinking is necessary to achieve these goals.

For a complete copy of the booklet, click here.

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