Opinion: Ecologist Sarah Flynn on the case for re-wilding suburban environments

Opinion: Ecologist Sarah Flynn on the case for re-wilding suburban environments Opinion: Ecologist Sarah Flynn on the case for re-wilding suburban environments Opinion: Ecologist Sarah Flynn on the case for re-wilding suburban environments Opinion: Ecologist Sarah Flynn on the case for re-wilding suburban environments Opinion: Ecologist Sarah Flynn on the case for re-wilding suburban environments Opinion: Ecologist Sarah Flynn on the case for re-wilding suburban environments

"Re-wilding" is an emerging global trend that uses a passive management approach to restore natural ecosystem processes in human-modified environments, and by doing so, reacquaints people with nature.

In  Aotearoa, urban environments may offer greater opportunity for experimentation with re-wilding, as there is a lesser likelihood of encountering conflicts between conservation of native flora and fauna and allowing proliferation of non-native species. Furthermore, there are numerous examples of urban populations of native flora and fauna popping up unexpectedly in modified and exotic-dominated habitats.  Urban ecology largely resides in the existing ‘neglected areas’ in our urban landscape, and overzealous restoration efforts in these environments can have the unintended effect of depleting their biodiversity.

Nevertheless, acceptance of re-wilding will require a significant cultural shift in attitude and perspective away from the view that only indigenous ecosystems are of value, while naturalised non-native species are undesirable invasives that pose a threat to indigenous biodiversity wherever they occur.

Re-wilding of urban spaces will also require acceptance that nature is somewhat untidy and not  always scenic.

Landscape design has an important role in changing mindsets. Good design looks beyond the expected to foster an environment that is functional as well as beautiful, and can offer a new lens through which to view the world — in this case, to help us notice the wild nature that surrounds us.

For further information please contact Sarah Flynn

6 November 2019