Over the years we have heard a lot of bad press about the negatives of urban spread. Issues such as the destruction of habitat, loss of agricultural land and increased pollution have grabbed the limelight and left many people feeling unsure about the rapid growth of urban areas. Whilst many of the negative impacts that can occur with urban spread are true, little or nothing is said about the positive impacts. For example, when we first moved to our own suburban block in Tasmania it was surrounded by unused farmland. There was no food production occurring, very little diversity in fauna, flora and insect life and no usage of recyclable commodities such as rainwater and sunlight. In fact, the land looked baron. Twenty years on and the lifeless farmland that had surrounded our house is now full of houses but also full of life. As people have planted ornamental gardens, purchased bird baths, installed solar panels, planted vegetables and fruit trees and installed rainwater tanks and catchments etc. our urban sprawl has now become a thriving oasis.
We have counted over 10 additional species of birds that now live and breed in our area that were not here previously. Beneficial insects such as bees and ladybirds abound and rainfall that once ran off baron farmland and was wasted is now filling water tanks, bird baths and keeping food gardens alive.
The much-welcomed biodiversity of the new urban sprawl over the old unused farmland has increased tenfold. Urbanisation indeed has some negatives but if we all look at the net positive gains that can occur when individual homeowners contribute something to their own plots of land the benefits can be significant. If we add additional factors such as growing some of our own food and saving our own seeds, then those positives are even greater. By growing our own food we not only benefit from improved physical and mental health but we are also helping the environment by reducing our carbon footprint and being involved in practical food security issues.
So, instead of focusing on negative news associated with urbanisation we recommend that everyone head outside and plant a garden. It certainly pays off down the track!