The urban community and natural resources: The city and natural communities.
- New Zealand Wildlife Service, Department of Internal Affairs
There should be no need to try to convince anyone of the ugliness and poor planning of our cities. Those with senses and sensibility will be aware of their shortcomings, and disquieted, too; because with all our insight and technical skill we continue to add to their tastelessness and inefficiency through motives that reflect little credit on the developers—public or private.
My aim is to outline the part ecologists should be playing in the planning of urban areas and their surrounding countryside; especially now, when about 40% of mankind lives in cities, with all the attendant social, economic, political and environmental problems of such places. I will take for granted the fundamental need to supply such essentials as efficient transport, power and waste-disposal systems, formal areas for relaxation, recreation and so on. Such things are the province of engineers and town-planners in the strict sense; just as the design of aesthetically-satisfying buildings, streets and squares is a task for architects. What is needed for a technically efficient city is for all of these experts to be given the proper opportunity to combine in exercising their skills. However, even this is not enough—provision should be made for incorporating natural communities and as much ecological diversity as possible. Until now, most urban areas have been developed without recourse to ecological advice. (I prefer not to use the word "planned", which, for me, implies more care than—obviously—has been taken). Apparently, developers and local government have had as much need for ecologists as Coffinhal had for scientists on the occasion of Lavoisier's condemnation.