Author: Chloe Jones
A recent study from North Carolina State University found that there are higher biodiversity levels in urban areas that one might expect. The study specifically focused on ant species biodiversity in New York City. It found that across the city, there are over 40 species of ants thriving, despite urban development.
However, a different University of Iowa study suggests that planting trees and creating green space in cities is great for attracting species, but maybe not so great for ensuring the sustainability of biodiversity across urban environments. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141031121246.htm) One researcher said “In cities, you might have more trees, but you don't necessarily have more insects associated with them,"
These two articles made me wonder about Portland. What are we doing to ensure biodiversity in the city? We are known as such a “green” city, a city with huge forward momentum in sustainable architecture and development. Despite being “green,” are we actually maintaining Portland biodiversity?
It didn’t take much research before I came across The Intertwine Alliance. This is a group focuses on being more aware of PDX biodiversity and creating practices that sustain biodiversity. In the early 2000s, The Intertwine started The Biodiversity Guide for the Greater Portland-Vancouver Region. They mapped both urban and green areas to document the city’s biodiversity and came up with the composition and patterns of this region’s biodiversity. From their website the guide “describes the status of the region’s flora, fauna, and natural habitats; changes that have occurred in the regional landscapes since 1850; and potential losses the region might experience if appropriate conservation and restoration actions are not taken.” (http://theintertwine.org/BiodiversityGuide) Moving forward, The Intertwine can use their maps and guide to manage and maintain biodiversity in urban areas.
This article has a really great timeline of how Portland and Vancouver have approached biodiversity sine early city planning, decades ago: http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2012/12/15/biodiversity-planning-finally-getting-it-right-in-the-portland-vancouver-metro-region/
Resources: links throughout the article