What Is the Insect Apocalypse and Is It Real?

Posted by Ecogardens



If someone told you insects were on the path to extinction, would you believe them? Well, turns out you better.

Granted, most of us would throw a ticker tape parade if someone informed us today that “All the mosquitoes are dead!”

Because, come on. Do bugs have any redeeming value?

Actually, yes. Well, maybe mosquitoes are a bad example, seeing as eminent scientists aren’t sure their disappearance would make a major difference to world ecology. (We freaking knew it.)

But insects in general are a critical faction of the animal kingdom. They feed birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and mammals. They pollinate the crops on which we rely and the native species that steward our ecosphere. And they keep the ecology our cities healthier.

Which is why, when we hear phrases such as “insect apocalypse,” we tend to get a little jumpy.

Too bad the experts aren’t kidding. But it’s far from a simple story, so let’s read it.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

Chicago Proposes Bird-Friendly Ordinance

Posted by Ecogardens


Chicago is taking a stand for birds, and we’re totally behind it.

You know how much we love birds.

I mean, everyone should love birds. And we’re part of everyone, so obviously we do as well. (If that’s not compelling enough for you, feel free to read up on some bird-centric goodness here or here.)

As we’ve discussed before, cities are extremely dangerous for birds, and Chicago is one of the biggest offenders. In fact, it has the dubious honor of being the riskiest skyline in the country when it comes to avian traffic, contributing hugely to the billion bird deaths from collision each year.

It hardly bears saying that we need to do something about it.

Which is why we were delighted to discover that Chicago has proposed a bird-friendly building ordinance that will mandate city-wide protection of our feathered friends and do much to promote urban ecology.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

How to Design with Birds in Mind

Posted by Ecogardens


There’s a lot of emphasis today on bringing birds into our cities, but are we really providing a safe habitat for them? The facts suggest we’re not. 

We build green roofs. We set aside small patches of wilderness in the midst of urban bustle. We carefully curate nesting sites and habitats for critters, all in hopes of enriching our cities and bringing birds back from the brink.

But think about the message we’re actually sending to our feathered friends.

“Hey guys!” our newer, greener cities broadcast. “Come on down! Nest up! Build a family. But oh, uh, bring your helmets! Cuz that building ain’t movin’.”

And that, if you’re a bird, is a major problem.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

How to Develop a Comprehensive Urban Ecology Meaning

Posted by Ecogardens


Urban ecology is tough to define and tougher to agree on, but we have to do so if we want to make real strides in favor of life in our cities – including our own.

If someone asked you to offer a comprehensive urban ecology meaning, would you know what to say?

If your answer was something along the lines of “like, life in cities?” then join the crowd. Even people in the ecological and sustainability spaces have a hard time offering a true urban ecology meaning. The topic of life in the built environment is a big one, and we often forget crucial aspects of the definition.

Where we’re not forgetting things, we’re disagreeing on them. It’s a problem, especially when we try to sum up the concept in a single sentence, which often does more harm than good.

We’re not blameless here at Ecogardens, which is why we’ve been working hard lately to develop a more well-rounded urban ecology meaning and share it with our followers.

Want in? Read on.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

How to Work Toward A Better Urban Ecology Definition

Posted by Ecogardens


Having a better definition of urban ecology will allow us to communicate more effectively, make better plans and meet goals across industries, to the benefit of our cities.

Definitions are important in today’s world – just as they’ve always been. Having a concrete, complete and detailed understanding of any given concept helps us carry that concept out to best effect.

The phrase urban ecology is no exception. The problem is, despite the critical importance of integrating our cities and worlds today, we lack any such urban ecology definition. And we really need one.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

Crafting the Right Urban Ecology Approach

Posted by Ecogardens



The main issue with the prevailing conception of urban ecology is that it takes people out of the equation. Problem is, we can’t do that.

When you think of “urban ecology,” what do you see?

For most folks, it’s a winding river. A pristine prairie. A tall and silent forest, with old growth trees standing sentinel. Perhaps a regal stag or two.

The problem with this picture? Almost no one sees people as a part of it.

And believe us, that’s a problem.

Why? At more than 7.5 billion strong, humans are the most populous mammals on Earth (followed by cows, sheep, pigs and dogs, if you were curious). Our urban areas cover 3 percent of the world’s landmass, and that’s not even including rural settlements. Our livestock and agricultural production are among the leading causes of global climate change.

Any definition of or approach to ecology that fails to include humans is doomed to fail. We can’t operate on the assumption that we’re somehow “outside” the environment. Our worldwide hegemony, simply put, means we cannot be. Likely ever again, unless our species perishes at our own hand. Or, like asteroid strike maybe.

Too depressing for the morning? Okay, okay. Sorry.

Point being, we’re here. And we need to take account of … us.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

Bird Safety in Cities: How to Make Our Buildings Safe for Birds

Posted by Ecogardens


One of the biggest environmental hazards for birds is not pollution, disease or loss of habitat: It’s the buildings in which we live and work every day.

Since the earliest recordings of human history, we have used birds as symbols, metaphors, mythological figures, poetic devices and characters in our ever-mounting collection of stories.

We love our avian friends.

Which makes it all the more tragic that humans are responsible for the deaths of billions of birds every year. Yes, billions – both around the world and right here in the United States.

If we want to preserve our urban ecologies and the balance of the natural world, we must focus on bird safety in cities immediately – and that means taking a different approach to our buildings ASAP.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

How Does Environmental Stewardship Impact Urban Ecology?

Posted by Ecogardens


Environmental stewardship might feel like a tall order within city limits, but the simple act of caring for green roofs can do more for nature than you think.

We suffer from a very one-and-done mentality in our society.

Want a new jacket? Buy one online. Need a restaurant recommendation? It’s at your fingertips; no need to call your friends anymore. Have to meet city requirements and install a green roof.

No problemo. Expert called; project accomplished. Now you never have to think about it again.

If you think we’re joking, think again. We’ve seen more dead or dying green roofs than we can count, all because regulations require their installation but not their maintenance. We’re lacking a very basic component of environmental stewardship here: upkeep.

It’s not just the green roofs or other manmade systems that pay for this neglect, either. It’s the plants and animals that make up our natural world.

If we want to do what we can to help the ecology of our cities, we need to make a change.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

How to Minimize the Impact of Nocturnal Lighting on Animals

Posted by Ecogardens


To us dark-defying humans, flipping on a light at night is as natural as eating or breathing. Unfortunately, it is incredible unnatural for many animals that rely on darkness to thrive.

It’s easy to go through daily life ignoring our surroundings, especially our external environments when we’re cozied up inside for the night.

Garage lighting? What of it? You don’t want someone to steal the basketball hoop, after all.

Office buildings lit up like Christmas trees all night long? Well, of course! We wouldn’t want miscreants to get the wrong idea – and plus, that skyline looks awfully pretty.

Problem is, the massive amount of light we put out each night is a form of pollution. In addition to obscuring a beautiful night sky, it confused birds and other animals that travel, eat or live their lives after the sun goes down. It’s seriously disruptive to our urban ecology.

We need to do something about it, and now.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

How to Use Urban Ecological Design to Help Cities Prosper

Posted by Ecogardens


Urban ecological design is a critical discipline if we want to bridge the divide between city infrastructure and the natural world.

So, exactly what is urban ecological design, you’re wondering? Well, that starts with asking: What’s wrong with our cities in the first place?

You don’t need to read City Mouse, Country Mouse to understand the divide between our sparsely populated rural places and our bustling urban spaces, complete with all the conveniences of modern times.

(Although if you haven’t read that book, you should – whether or not you have children. It’s a classic, mostly because, mice with clothes.)

The problem is that too many people see cities as centers of civilization, exclusive of the environment. On the other hand, nature is an idyllic escape that simply can’t exist inside metropolitan boundaries.

Frankly, we don’t care for that way of thinking. The only way we’ll heal the environment and transform cities into healthy places to live is to meld the two. That’s where urban ecological design comes in.

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Topics: Urban Ecology

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