Urban Rewilding
Understanding Urban Rewilding: Some Definitions

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series C-036

Urban rewilding is an approach to urban design and development that seeks to restore natural ecosystems and biodiversity within urban areas. This can be achieved through various means, such as the creation of green spaces, the restoration of natural habitats, and the introduction of wildlife into urban environments.
U rban rewilding refers to the process of reintroducing and restoring natural elements, such as plants and animals, to urban environments that have been heavily developed or degraded over time. The goal of urban rewilding is to create more green spaces, increase biodiversity, and promote a healthier and more sustainable urban ecosystem. This can be done in various ways, such as:

  1. Planting native vegetation and creating green roofs, walls, and other structures to provide habitats for wildlife.
  2. Building green corridors or "wildlife highways" to connect fragmented urban habitats and allow species to move through the city.
  3. Introducing wildlife such as birds, insects, and small mammals back into urban areas, sometimes through programs such as beekeeping and bird feeding.
  4. Removing non-native and invasive plant and animal species that are harmful to the ecosystem.
Urban rewilding can help improve the quality of life for urban residents by reducing the heat island effect, improving air quality, and providing recreational spaces. It can also help mitigate the effects of climate change by increasing carbon sequestration and reducing stormwater runoff.

Urban rewilding is important for urban governance as it promotes sustainable development, environmental stewardship, climate change adaptation, community engagement, and the well-being of urban residents. By integrating rewilding principles and practices into urban governance frameworks, cities can effectively address environmental challenges, enhance resilience, and create healthier and more sustainable urban environments.

Restoration of natural ecosystems and biodiversity can be enabled through rewilding and design and development within urban areas. This can be achieved through the creation of green spaces, restoration of natural habitats, and introduction of wildlife into urban environments. Quality of life for city dwellers can be improved through urban rewilding by providing access to nature, reducing air and noise pollution, and mitigating the impacts of climate change. At the same time, it can help to conserve and protect biodiversity, by providing habitats for plants and animals that would otherwise be lost to urbanization. Urban rewilding plays an important role in promoting public health by providing opportunities for physical activity and connecting people to nature.
Nature-based solutions, including urban rewilding, help to mitigate climate risks in cities. By reintroducing natural habitats and green spaces, urban rewilding enhances urban resilience to climate change impacts. Cities with rewilding initiatives experience enhanced quality of life for residents, with access to green spaces and exposure to nature positively impacting physical and mental well-being. By integrating rewilding into urban environments, cities foster community engagement, environmental stewardship, and sustainable development, leading to more vibrant and resilient urban landscapes. Developing cities that have rewilding projects offer opportunities to address environmental degradation, enhance biodiversity, and promote sustainable development in rapidly urbanizing regions. By integrating rewilding practices, developing cities can create greener, more livable urban spaces that prioritize ecological balance, community well-being, and resilience to future challenges.
Naturbanism in Barcelona:
This initiative aims to transform the city into an "urban forest" by planting new trees and creating green spaces throughout the city.
Rotterdam's Green-Blue Strip:
Rotterdam has a program to create a green and blue strip along the city's main river, which will provide habitat for wildlife, reduce the urban heat island effect, and improve water management.
The High Line in New York City:
The High Line is a former elevated railway line that has been converted into a public park, featuring native plants and wildlife habitat.
Singapore's Gardens by the Bay:
This garden features a large collection of native plants and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species.
Berlin's Green Roofs:
Berlin has a program to increase the number of green roofs in the city, which provide habitat for wildlife, reduce energy consumption, and improve air quality.
London's Royal Parks:
London is known for its iconic Royal Parks, such as Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, and Regent's Park, which have undergone urban rewilding efforts. These parks, originally designed as royal hunting grounds and private gardens, have been transformed into large green spaces that promote biodiversity and provide a haven for wildlife in the city.
APPENDIX: The Miyawaki Method Botanist Akira Miyawaki made an important discovery while researching Japanese vegetation in the 1970s. He noticed that ancient, indigenous forest ecosystems were surviving and thriving on untended land such as temples and cemeteries, whereas they had long vanished from cultivated plots.

Miyawaki set about a program of restoring Japan’s natural forestry at small sites across the country, using indigenous soil and plants. In many cases the results were spectacular: rapid growth of dense and diverse ecosystems.

The “Miyawaki method” has since become a global movement, with miniature forests guided by the botanist’s principles flourishing across the US, Europe, and Asia. They are also taking root in urban environments from Beirut to Bordeaux, and playing a leading role in a movement to bring wild nature to the heart of cities.

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