Follow for more talkers

Climate Change

Rewilding our cities could reduce disastrous impacts of climate change

Rewilding has also been seen to improve mental health.

Published

on

Little African-American volunteer with young plants outdoors
(Maples Images via Shutterstcok)

By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Rewilding our cities could reduce the disastrous impacts of climate change, a new report reveals.

The study shows how increased urban rewilding efforts could boost wildlife and buffer city dwellers from the worst impacts of climate change, such as heatwaves, forest fires and flooding.

Rewilding is a way of restoring nature and biodiversity in an area by letting nature take care of itself, reviving natural processes.

Dr. Nathalie Pettorelli, lead author and climate and biodiversity expert at the Zoological Society of London's Institute of Zoology, said: "Giving nature freer rein across our cities could not only help to buffer them against extreme climatic events such as storms, floods and heat waves, by helping to cool them down and create natural flood defenses but also help boost urban wildlife via habitat creation."

Gapstow Bridge in Central Park in spring early morning with flowers
(Nature's Charm via Shutterstock)

Habitat creation and urban wildlife are crucial in the fight against climate change, as it helps protect, enhance and restore habitats.

This year, Eurasian Beavers have been reintroduced into a woodland enclosure in North London, UK, after being absent for 400 years.

The furry additions are set to help restore natural habitats and even reduce flood risk in the city.

While foxes are a common site in our cities, other animals have made unexpected appearances.

Two species of seahorses and hundreds of seals now call the River Thames in London their home.

In 2019, the Zoological Society of London counted 932 harbor seals and 3,243 grey seals in the water.

The boy is doing gardening on his balcony. Natural development for children
(Maples Images via Shutterstock)

And bison have just been reintroduced to woodland in Kent, UK, where they have been absent for 6,000 years.

Rewilding could be used in private gardens, green spaces, urban waterways, estuaries, wetlands, and even railways.

It doesn't matter how small the patch is, every green space can help.

Dr. Pettorelli said: “Wildfires, floods and heatwaves across the world have brought the climate crisis to the fore for many people this year.

"The interconnection of the climate crisis with the loss of nature is thankfully now widely recognized and rewilding is an approach being increasingly embraced."

Rewilding has also been seen to improve mental health, as it gives people an opportunity to be more engaged with nature.

The mental health charity Mind has said: "Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression."

Wildflowers on a background of blue sky. Photo.
(Greens and Blues via Shutterstock)

The study reveals that by 2050, two out of three people will likely be living in cities or other urban environments, meaning incorporating rewilding now could have a huge impact on thousands of people.

The concept has already been successful in Germany and Singapore, where they have seen a hugely positive impact from rewilding.

In Singapore, the iconic Gardens by the Bay includes 18 fake super trees, some reaching 160 feet, that mimic normal trees by absorbing heat, filtering rainwater and providing shade.

They are also now home to around 158,000 living plants, allowing nature to take back control.

Gapstow Bridge is one of the icons of Central Park, Manhattan in New York City
(Nature's Charm via Shutterstock)

Dr. Pettorelli said: "The large-scale rewilding of urban spaces, including creating nature corridors and wild spaces around city infrastructure, is something that has so far been relatively overlooked as part of the solution.

“This is the first report of its kind to lay out a roadmap for rewilding our cities and we believe this is a high-impact solution to jointly address the climate and biodiversity loss crises in a low-cost, hands-off way."

While rewilding has been proven to benefit the environment and the individuals who live in it, researchers still urge caution.

Dr. Pettorelli said: "Large-scale rewilding should be done with expert guidance as ultimately, well-meaning but misguided efforts could actually lead to further biodiversity loss and increased threats to public health through invasive species, disease transmission from wildlife as well as further exacerbating social inequalities."

With reintroducing new species, disease risk assessments must be done to ensure that the animal is safe in its new home and that its new home is safe from the animal.

Dr. Pettorelli added: “For the rewilding of urban spaces to work, we need the buy-in and support of policymakers, funders, conservation scientists and of course, local communities.

"There’s so much that the everyday person can do to support a positive change. For example, by leaving part of your garden wild, and avoiding artificial turf and pesticides we can all do our bit to secure a future where wildlife and people thrive.”

Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email licensing@swns.com or submit an inquiry via our contact form.

Top Talkers