promoting nature: a political perspective
When we moved here the street was lined with small to medium sized houses surrounded by large leafy gardens. Today - 34 years later! - most of these houses have been demolished and replaced with large square double story McMansions. Each family member has their own bedroom with their own ensuite bathroom. Without trees or verandahs to shade the house, the families living in these houses rely on airconditioning to protect them from the ever increasing hot summers.
With the destruction of their habitat, birds, possums and other wildlife have noticeably decreased in numbers. Whether they've died or moved on, I can't say. But much of the wildlife has gone, making my life the poorer for it. I believe everyone's life is made poorer, but some people are so disconnected from nature, they like it that way.
I've been whinging and writing about the loss of biodiversity in my local area for years. Now I'm thinking it would be more positive to see myself as a stakeholder with the power to get involved in local planning issues.
Issues that determine how land is used, developed, protected or conserved - these are the crucial issues for getting a better ratio of nature to concrete.
Planning decisions have been mainly regulated by state governments and their laws, but new legislation is aimed at giving more power to local governments. Each local government area is obliged to provide a planning scheme that takes into account environmental, social and economic considerations.
All too often economic considerations trump environmental ones. In some ways, it would be easier to see this in black - white terms: nature = good, development = bad. But I know it's not that simple. The goodies and the baddies all wear shades of grey, so sometimes it's hard to tell them apart.
|Planting for biodiversity, Koonung Creek, August 2012|
Once the Strategy is adopted, a detailed action plan and monitoring framework will be worked out. A wonderful plan is worth little until it's implemented. You need the plan, but you also need to make sure it's being implemented properly. In the spirit of being positive, I'll try to curtail my cynicism while maintaining a sceptical attitude.
You can't take things for granted, even with formally established institutions like National Parks. National Parks are currently under threat. Recently State Premiers have changed laws to allow logging, shooting, mining and cattle grazing in National Parks. And now they're offering Parks as 99 year leases, effectively placing them in private hands. Get Up is currently campaigning against this.
Two months ago a renovated shopping centre opened in Paris. Beaugrenelle shopping centre has a green roof, the size of a football stadium, with plantings to provide a haven for biodiversity. There are also beehives and nesting boxes for birds. France's League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) is a partner in the project.
In Mumbai, India, a 115 storey building called Imperial Tower, is being planned. The plan includes several sky gardens.
In Turkey there are currently riots against the government. The riots are the result of underlying dissatisfaction, but the trigger was the government's decision to allow developers in to destroy Gezi Park, a public park and one of the last green spaces in the area.
|Taksim Gezi Park, Istanbul (photo from Wikipedia)|
|Suburban street tree|
|Callistemon growing in suburban street|
This issue matters for present and future generations.