What Is Urban Ecology and Why Should You Care?

Posted by Ecogardens

What Is Urban Ecology and Why Should You Care? | Wondering about the phrase “urban ecology” and what it means? We’ve got you covered.


What is urban ecology? Simply put, it’s the exploration of relationships between plants, animals, you and me – right here in our cities.

Pop quiz: What do you call the combination of squirrels and bees, grasses and wildflowers, your rooftop, a glass of Prosecco and you?

No, it’s not “a really dope summer afternoon.” Although that too.

The phrase we’re looking for here is “urban ecology,” which refers to the study of ecosystems within cities. If your immediate response to this is something along the lines of, “Wait, what is urban ecology? And also can we get back to that rooftop drinks thing?”

… then we don’t blame you. It’s a confusing concept, mainly because while most of us learned the basic meaning of ecology in school, there exists a sharply perceived divide between city and countryside. Sure, there’s all sorts of wildlife out there, but here within the figurative city walls?


Luckily, that’s a misperception. There’s all sorts of good schtuff going on here in our urban spaces. Even better, if we learn to cultivate and safeguard wildlife right here in the city, we’ll see benefits to ourselves, to animals and to the world.

What Is Urban Ecology?


What Is Urban Ecology and Why Should You Care? | The definition of urban ecology is really quite simple: It’s the study of how plants, animals, humans and the environment interact within cities.

The definition of urban ecology really isn’t that complex:

It’s the study of plants, animals, bacteria, viruses, funguses, humans and the rest of the species that inhabit our cities and surrounding areas.

More specifically, it is the study of how they interact, not only with one another, but with the environment. Some of these interactions are quite beneficial, like when green roofs provide space for pollinators to feed or living walls catch water out of the sky and hold onto it until needed again.

Other interactions, however, aren’t nearly so helpful.

So Why Should We Care About Urban Ecology?


Humans are relative newcomers to the ecosphere. Homo sapiens is about 200,000 years old. Even the oldest primate precursor is only about 55 million years old.

Compare that to bees, which have a lineage stretching back 100 million years, or grasses, which have ruled the Earth’s wide plains in more or less their current form for more than 50 million years as well. (Sorry for the stats; we just really like learning.)

Our newness matters for one simple reason: We’re not that good at playing with others yet. While we might want to respect the plants and animals around us, many of our activities do them much more harm than good. Consider:


  • Manufacturing, which releases toxins into the air and mucks up waterways
  • Waste, which is poorly managed and spews tons upon tons of plastic out into the ocean every year, forming continent-sized garbage heaps
  • Uniformly concrete, cement and asphalt surfaces, which create sheeting stormwater runoff
  • … and overflow our sewers
  • … and encourage disease
  • … and also destroy habitats on which animals formerly depended
  • … and create massive algae blooms, depleting oxygen in waterways and killing fish


You can probably tell we have a thing against stormwater. (As in, we’re doing everything we can to defeat it.) As for the other downsides, those are just a few of the ways we disrupt plants, animals and their habitats.

What Can We Do to Help Our Ecological Spaces Here in the City?


What Is Urban Ecology and Why Should You Care? | Want to know what you can do to help the environment in cities and towns? Let’s work together.

In a nutshell, we need to care about urban ecology because if we don’t, it might not be there much longer. Consider how sad it would be to lose the buzzing insects in your rose garden, the squirrels that visit your deck or the twining creeper that climbs your building.

Without our care, those won’t last forever. Eventually, our cities could kill almost everything … so let’s not let them, shall we?

If you’d like to do something about your own urban niche, we invite you to get in touch with us here at Ecogardens today. Let’s make a better plan together.


Topics: Urban Ecology

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