What are the opportunities and challenges we face in conserving and enhancing urban biodiversity as our cities contend with the impacts of climate change, population growth and increasing density? What role does biodiversity play in improving human health and wellbeing? What are the unexploited opportunities for biodiversity in urban landscapes?
These were just some of the questions that were addressed at the Public Open Forum on ‘Biodiversity and the City’ held at the Melbourne Town Hall on 4 December 2012. Over 200 members of the general public participated at this event, which was co-organised by the City of Melbourne and ARCUE. The Forum was moderated by Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Director of the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing at the School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne.
Following presentations by five speakers (below), there was a panel discussion on how we manage the tensions between how we want to live now and in the future ; and what are the most important things to focus on for biodiversity ? The floor was then opened up to questions from the audience.
The conclusions from the evening were that there are lots of decisions that the community can make regarding biodiversity in the city. As urban citizens, we need to actively support nature in the streets and other areas where we live and work. We also need to start having ‘difficult conversations ’ about the environment with our friends, family and neighbours who may not share our views on the importance of the natural environment for human health and wellbeing. We also need to increase the number of representatives within local government and the state and federal parliament who share our concerns and are willing to take up this discussion and begin to make changes that will support the on-ground efforts that are already underway. Finally, we need to recognise that we are currently a small group, and we need to talk to our friends and neighbours to help the movement grow.
Dr Sarah Bekessy
“Reimagining the suburb: planning for biodiversity on the urban fringe”