Impact of urbanisation on biodiversity



Posted on 09 March 2012  | 
Impact of urbanisation on biodiversity
© WWF-India Enlarge
Natural resources are under extreme pressure due to the burgeoning human population and rapid urbanisation across the world. Many studies show that increase in the ecological footprint from the changing consumption behaviour, particularly of those residing in cities, continues to negatively impact the environment. This is an emerging challenge and a harsh reality.

Urbanisation in India is occurring at a rate that is faster compared to many other parts of the developing world. The Planning Commission of the Government of India estimates that about 40 per cent of the country’s population will be residing in urban areas by 2030. However, as conurbations and megacities grow, they spawn a disproportionately large footprint in the form of ravaged nature in and around these expanding cities. Therefore, understanding the impact of urbanisation on biodiversity becomes imperative not only from the point of view of conservation, but also for planning sustainable cities. The present report attempts to understand the impact of urbanisation on biodiversity based on the study of two Indian cities—Coimbatore and Kolkata, which are located in important, yet different bio-diverse regions.

Preliminary investigations based on literature reviews and field studies suggest that the rapid urbanisation of both Coimbatore and Kolkata has led to drastic changes in land use, destruction of natural ecosystems, and increase in the demand for natural resources. For instance, geographical expansion of Coimbatore city in recent decades has led to the destruction of the Noyyal river that had once served the city’s water needs. Similarly, the spatial growth of Kolkata has led to drastic changes in the biodiversity of the East Kolkata Wetlands in the city as well as the Sundarbans.
Impact of urbanisation on biodiversity
© WWF-India Enlarge

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