Cities - even the greenest of them - replace nature with glass, concrete and asphalt. And their footprint extends far beyond their boundaries to provide for the needs of the thousands, millions, or ten of millions of people concentrated within them. They are home to most of the people on Earth and are the sources of most pollution. But it seems cities are also an inevitable result of the development of civilization. They are growing in size and number, especially in some of the most biodiverse and least spoiled part of the planet. So, does that mean they are a fundamental obstacle to conservation? Should conservationists be trying to de-urbanize? My guest for this episode of The Case for Conservation Podcast answers those questions with an emphatic "no".
Eric Sanderson is a landscape ecologist and Senior Conservation Ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, based at the Bronx Zoo in New York. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and other publications on a wide range of conservation topics. These include two books, one of which, Manahatta: A Natural History of New York City, was a New York Times bestseller when it was published in 2009. See episode 6 with Debra Roberts for another look at cities and conservation, from a different angle
Links to resources:
From Bottleneck to Breakthrough: Urbanization and the Future of Biodiversity Conservation - Eric's 2018 paper in BioScience that forms the basis for much of our discussion (open access).
Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City - Eric's 2009 book that compares an 18th-century map of Manhattan's landscape to the contemporary situation there.