Restoring a city's natural ecosystems
“By the turn of the century, the majority of the world’s population will be living in cities. While urban settlements, particularly in developing countries, are showing many of the symptoms of the global environment and development crisis, they nevertheless generate 60 per cent of gross national product and, if properly managed, can develop the capacity to sustain their productivity, improve the living conditions of their residents and manage natural resources in a sustainable way.”
Article 7.13, Agenda 21, United Nations Earth Summit, 1992.
Work on restoring a Hamilton park will provide a model for restoring ecosystems in cities all around New Zealand.
Biodiversity loss has been greatest in or near New Zealand’s cities where development has often resulted in total landscape transformations, but the magnitude of this loss has been recognised only in recent years.
A University of Waikato-led research group is working on a four-year FRST-funded project to determine the best way to restore natural ecosystems in city areas, using the 60ha Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park in Hamilton as a case study.
The research will develop a model to reverse the loss of native plants and wildlife in New Zealand’s urban areas and provide New Zealand’s restoration groups with the best methods to use.
Research leader Professor Bruce Clarkson says the park, a modified peat lake and catchment, provides a unique opportunity in restoration. “Our role is not to conduct the reconstruction, but to underpin the restoration effort with excellent science.”
Such a model will help transform traditional city approaches to managing parks and gardens throughout New Zealand to one more closely aligned to ecosystem management and sustainable development.
External funding gratefully acknowledged: Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.
CENTRE FOR BIODIVERSITY AND ECOLOGY RESEARCH, FACULTY OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING