I'm currently finishing up two of my Human Environment 400-levels, Environmental Management and Urban Ecology, and I'm finding some really interesting links between them. So instead I'm going to address these links through a discussion about urban agriculture's potential in contributing to sustainable urban communities. It seems a critical way for urban planners and environmental managers to cooperate.
There are a few things that need to be made clear before I get to the crux:
Since the industrial revolution, the global human population has been growing exponentially - from about one billion people to over six billion people today. Think about that! It took thousands and thousands of years for the human population to reach just one billion people, and only the last two hundred for the population to increase by five billion people!
An interesting concept in urban ecology is that of the city as an organism, relying on inputs from nature and releasing outputs into nature. This cycle of consumption and waste production is called the urban metabolism. With today's global economy, enabling us to consume natural resources from all over the planet, we are experiencing global problems - the most dire of which is global climate change.
There are ways for us to lower cities' contribution to global climate change, and civic ecology is one of them. My simple definition of civic ecology is, "the combining environmental management with community building." Basically, it's about groups of urban citizens getting together to improve the ecology of urban spaces, whether it be through watershed restoration, community forestry, or community gardening.
Community forestry and gardening increase the amount of green space in cities, which lowers the urban heat island effect.
If you live in Montreal and want to get involved in some community greening (and become environmental stewards!), check out the Urban Ecology Centre. And, of course, if you're a Concordia University student, get involved with the Concordia Food Systems Project!
See you there! :)
(Click on the pictures to see where they're from.)