The mayor of Lalitpur called me to meet with other ward chiefs and discuss the roadside plantations and how to build community participation and ownership; which is terribly lacking.
The boardroom was full of talk of the trees and smart city plans, yet the devotion for tress was barely there. It is important to turn our full attention to the more-than-human world and draw upon the innate intelligence of nature to design nature-based solutions.
I told the public officials – It is not just about how many trees we planted. At the core, it is about the living conditions offered to the plants. 95 % percent of the trees planted along the footpaths are living under urban stress, many have died. Haphazard plantings cannot provide full-fledged ecosystem services to their inhabitants. Therefore, the right selection of species and strategic planning t is required. Using urban ecology principals and vegetation as a design tool can reduce the stormwater runoff, urban heat island effect, moderate the microclimate. It gives thermal comfort, improves public health and wellbeing, as well as city aesthetics and biodiversity.
For that, we need to prioritize the Green infrastructure in a wider context to deal with future environmental changes. There must be a synergistic effort from public, private, and community participants, to halt the deterioration and move towards the recovery phase. Only then we can think and talk about sustainability.
The city dwellers have so little access to natural spaces. We can utilize even the tiny vacant plots to establish pocket parks where the human and the natural elements can connect. Various communities can get involved in such urban renewal projects that will eventually increase broader participation and ownership.