Urban Specialist Group
Half the world’s people live in cities and this proportion is expected to grow to 61 percent by 2030. Protected areas are connected to urban areas in many ways. On one hand, they provide important benefits to cities and urban people, ranging from education and healthy recreation to conservation of biodiversity, water supply, and income from tourism. On the other hand, they are often harmed by urban sprawl and pollution.
People in cities tend to be less and less connected to nature. Consequently, the quality of their lives is diminished, they have little knowledge of the benefits of natural areas, they may unwittingly behave irresponsibly toward the environment, and they may be less inclined to give political support to nature conservation City dwellers gain appreciation for nature less through conventional education than through outdoor experiences.
Agencies responsible for protected areas, working with others, can preserve and restore natural areas in and near cities, and provide opportunities for urban residents to enjoy nature.In addition, they can promote sustainability in urban settings, and help to bridge divisions in urban society through shared experiences in nature.
Innovative programs exist in a number of countries, but little has been done to exchange information. The goals of this specialist group are to strengthen the ability of the protected areas community to serve the needs of cities and inform urban residents about the benefits of protected areas.