The world is fast developing, with the global urban population estimated at 6.3 billion in 2050, almost doubling the 3.5 billion in 2010. This means that urban areas are expanding and this increases the demand for natural resources such as food and energy, and a need for climate regulation. The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook published in 2012 by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity highlights the challenges and opportunities posed by global urbanisation and its links with biodiversity and ecosystem services.
There are many benefits to maintaining and enhancing urban biodiversity, collectively improving the quality of life in cities. Some of the benefits are:
- Reducing stress, enhancing a positive mood, improving cognitive skills and academic performance, as well as moderating the effects of ADHD, autism, and other childhood disorders.
Economic benefits relating to green urban elements. For example, studies have shown that homes with trees were sold at a premium compared with those without trees, as modern urbanites gain more knowledge of the associated health benefits of being close to nature, along with its aesthetic appeal.
- Studies have shown that the hospital environment plays a critical role in the healing rate of patients. Patients are seen to have benefited emotionally and psychologically, such as experiencing reduced stress levels and having accelerated recovery from illnesses.
Although Singapore is an urbanised city-state, it is also rich in biodiversity (click here to read more about wildlife in Singapore). NParks works in partnership with other relevant government agencies and stakeholders to maintain and enhance urban greenery and biodiversity; and increasingly seek innovative ways to address the challenges of land scarcity.
We have many successful examples of incorporating biodiversity in our urban environment. For instance, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital aspires to be “a hospital in a garden” that seeks to tap the potential healing effect of nature.
Moving forward, NParks is looking at exploring “Biophilia” – the human relationship with nature – as an ethic, and how it could be applied to city planning and design.
Singapore, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Global Partnership on Local and Subnational Action on Biodiversity, developed a tool to evaluate cities’ biodiversity conservation efforts. This tool was adopted globally in 2010. In recognition of Singapore’s leading efforts, it is known as the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity.