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Urban growth impacts biodiversity: Dr Katti
Urban growth is not a static growth, it is a global phenomenon. Goods, services and information move across countries, which is a part of globalization. This has impacted the biodiversity. These were the views of Dr Madhusudhan Katti, Associate Professor, North Carolina State University at a session on ‘Science and the citizens’ organized by the Department of English.
During the talk, Dr Katti explained how the urban area footprint is going to double by 2030 according to the report in Convention of Maharashtra University on the outlook of biodiversity in cities. So, area is going to double while population of urban area will triple. He mentioned how this is a discrepancy in this relation, which may be problematic. Urban expansion takes place close to biodiversity hotspots, like we have the Western Ghats near Bangalore. So, the expansion depends on natural resources available.
Further Dr Katti spoke about the natural understanding amongst people wanting to study ecology and biodiversity and that the best place for it is away from the cities. In his research, he tried to see if there is any biodiversity in the cities. He studied to explore if there are any native species in the cities or if the foreign species are migrating and getting used to the city environment. Dr Katti found that the birds and animals found in the cities were adapting to the new manmade structures in cities. There are birds that build their nests in lamps or traffic signals. This is what makes cities an interesting place to study evolution in biodiversities. “It’s like an experiment where the natural habitat of these species is completely changed from forests to concrete establishments, and then to study the impact of this change. If we understand how they are adapting, cities can be built in a better way, which will make the environment much friendlier for these species,” said Dr Katti.
He added that in India since past 15 years, Flamingos (a migratory bird) has been occurring in thousands at Shivali port in Mumbai in search of food and habitat. The area called Navi Mumbai has seen a lot of changes. In a particular neighborhood in Mumbai called Washi, mangroves have been growing in numbers since past 30 years. So, human presence in the area has led to existence and expansion of forest.
One of the possibilities could be nutrients available through sewage that may have led to the growth of the trees. Another could be the dependency on natural energy resource like wood, which has shifted to electricity. This has resulted in less number of trees being cut. Since, Mumbai is a coastal city; there have been predictions of it being submerged in the sea. But a forest around the coast could act as a good buffer to protect the city from this mishap and the floods that occur every year.