URBAN HABITAT

Green roofs can make a big difference in urban jungles

Green roofs can make a big difference in urban jungles

Parks and green roofs are being adopted in many cities, in what is seen as a solution to both the lack of green space and food shortages.

Wherever insects abound, various species of birds also tend to thrive. However, invasive agricultural practices, including the use of pesticides, and relentless urban sprawl pose growing threats to insects, birds, and other wildlife, especially in places where space is already at a premium.

But if it is not possible to expand green spaces horizontally, there is always another way: expand them vertically.

Parks and green roofs are being adopted in many densely populated cities, in what is seen as a solution to both the lack of green space in urban areas and food shortages. These newly created green spaces can also house wild animals, such as butterflies and other arthropods, as well as birds that prey on them.

As the planet's population continues to grow, the restless expansion of urbanization is inevitable. However, increases in urban landscapes often mean that adjacent natural habitats are increasingly disturbed. As human settlements continue to encroach on the natural environment, many species of birds, both native and migratory, attempt to adapt to these new man-made environments to survive and reproduce.

Many are adopting, with varying degrees of success, changes to the landscape by exploiting the green spaces available in urban areas. That is why the increase in vegetation in urban spaces can be a positive influence on the richness and diversity of species.

Green spaces such as parks can serve this purpose, however, in many already overcrowded cities, these spaces are increasingly scarce. However, not so much the rooftops. In apartments and office buildings, whose roofs are directly exposed to the sun's rays, outdoor gardens such as green roofs, can flourish and produce fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables. In many densely populated cities, fresh vegetables produced in these roof gardens are becoming common in local markets.

With proper management, along with organic farming methods and technological tools, green roofs can produce yields high enough to feed many local people. Just as important, these green roofs can also serve as habitats in the sky for insects and birds.

New York City is home to many species of birds, including migratory ones. During their migrations, these birds often make pit stops in the city in search of food, rest, and even nests. They look for the right spaces they can find, which they often do in urban green spaces that can provide shelter in a concrete jungle.

A study conducted by the Department of Biological Sciences at Fordham University shows that, compared to conventional roofs without gardens, green roofs attract more varieties and a greater number of birds. Rooftop gardens provide a relative abundance and variety of greenery, which also attracts many more insects.

A similar situation is evident in Singapore, which has a total area of ​​only 721.5 square kilometers, but is home to 5.6 million people. Singapore has little land left at ground level to grow food to feed all those mouths. In fact, the country's agriculture only represents about 1% of the total land area. This means that Singapore needs to import large quantities of food from other countries.

Enterprising locals are greening roofs by installing leaf gardens atop buildings to alleviate chronic shortages of locally grown food. A local company called ComCrop specializes in installing rooftop gardens equipped with advanced features such as vertical racks and hydroponics. Fresh vegetables grown in this way are sent to local bars, restaurants and shops.

“Agriculture is not seen as a key sector in Singapore. But we import most of our food, so we are very vulnerable to sudden supply disruptions, "said Allan Lim, President and Founder of ComCrop. He continued: “Land, natural resources and low-cost labor used to be the predominant way in which countries achieved food security. But we can use technology to solve any deficiency. "

City planners are also supporting rooftop gardens to double the size of the city's green spaces by 2030. “An appreciation and love of greenery are now at the core of Singapore's national identity,” said Desmond Lee. , Second Minister of the Ministry of National Development.

As in New York, Singapore's rooftop green spaces also provide habitats for various species of wildlife, including insects and birds. According to a monitoring study of wildlife species using green roofs in Singapore in 2017, these roofs supported 53 species of birds and 57 species of butterflies. Of these, 12 species of birds and 12 species of butterflies were relatively rare.

Animals have used these green spaces in the sky to find food and mates and to raise their children in nests.


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