Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present, and Future
by Harini Nagendra, Azim Premji University
“Nature in the City” describes changes in nature in the landscape of Bengaluru using a deep historical dive from the 6th century CE to now, looking at trends in the way people perceive nature, charting a trend towards simplification of biodiversity and ecosystem services over time, and looking at pockets of resilience where multifunctional nature still thrives in the midst of urban chaos.
On a path of accelerated urbanization, India is going through substantial changes in its land cover and land use. In 1950, shortly after Indian independence, only 17% of the country’s population lived in cities. Today, India’s urban population stands at 33%. India contains three of the world’s ten largest cities, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata; as well as three of the world’s ten fastest growing cities, Ghaziabad, Surat, and Faridabad. In the past two decades, the area covered by Indian cities has expanded by a staggering 250%, covering an additional 5000 square kilometers of India’s surface with concrete, asphalt and glass (Nagendra et al., 2013). Projections indicate that more than 50% of India’s people will be living in cities by 2050 (United Nations, 2014). This massive urbanization will pose large scale challenges for urban resilience and sustainability, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable: the urban poor, migrant workers, traditional village residents.