Positive spin-off of urban biodiversity seen from a health perspective

A call for more ‘Rewildering’ in our cities was just one of the aspects ecologist of Breda Municipality Rombout van Eekelen addressed in his lecture on health in cities. Next to confirming nextcity.nl’s call for more wilderness set out in the declaration Wild Amsterdam published earlier this month, Van Eekelen called for more primary prevention of diseases by building and designing for biodiversity in order to let ecosystem services contribute to healthy cities.

Stress, hay fever, desease of Crohn and other physical and mental diseases occur less in more natural and biodiverse neighbourhoods because a biodiverse set of bacteria in the human body (skin, intestines) helps us to build op resilient health, shows research of the University of Helsinki from 2012.

Therefore in cities, the use of native green in outer layers of buildings, on circulation such as galleries or next to windows sleeping rooms are clearly recommended to bring dwellers in contact with biodiversity. An intriguing example shown was the Sottish parliament by architect Enric Miralles, which integrates large areas of planting with indigenous Scottish wildflowers, trees and shrubs. The wild grasses and trees used in the outside seating areas of the building were mainly found already in the area. The planting list can even be downloaded on the parliament’s website. This is what I call nature inclusive!