In his quest for exploring the natural resources of the earth system man has evolved from a cave dwelling creature to a global citizen. This process of evolution involving use of natural resources has led to the modern world utilizing and straining the available resources. The present economic system measures economic growth as the increase in the value of goods and services produced in a country. Growth leads to surplus capital which is diverted to addition of infrastructural facilities. This growth along with structural changes is termed as development. In a developing country such as India with a predicted growth rate of more than 5% for the year 2013-14 it is essential for the planners to develop strategies leading to judicious use of scarce resources. This is essential to achieve sustainable development in the country.
In present day world going green is the way forward for development. It is the only available option to achieve development which can be endured by the available resources without wearing them out with the passage of time. The consumption of resources in urban systems is disproportionate to their long-term availability.
Ecology involves the study of natural systems, specifically the relationship of organisms with their environment. The ecological studies concentrate on food-prey relationship of organisms, population distribution, interaction and dependence on the environment.
The environment refers to the surroundings in which the organisms live and interact with each other. The organisms are dependent on each other and use the resources of their surroundings to fulfill vary needs and conduct of life processes. The environment consists of the biotic and abiotic elements.
An ecosystem consists of all the biotic and abiotic factors of the environment functioning together. Ecology can be defined as the study of the interrelation, interdependence and interaction of the organisms with the biotic and abiotic factors surrounding them. So, we can also say that ecology is the study of ecosystem.
The fuel-powered urban ecosystems are heterotrophic in nature. In this age of globalization the urban ecosystems are dependent on each other for their various needs.
The dependence of urban ecosystems can be brought down to two resources namely energy and materials.
The industries operate fuel based machinery. The present technology of machine or engine operation needs high-powered energy source which is readily available by consumption of fossil fuels. Another great consumer of fossil fuel in urban system is the transport sector. Movement of goods (including fuel), services and personnel involves large consumption of fuel. Apart from that the commercial areas in the city are major consumers followed by institutional areas and residential areas.
Non- availability of high-powered fossil fuels in all the areas of the earth system leads to dependence of urban ecosystems on other ecosystems. The fuel needs to be transported to far off places for consumption. The transport involves consumption of fuel. The fuel used is limited and non-renewable.
In the urban ecosystems the material for consumption to carry out the day-today activities are brought from far off places. In the world of globalization the availability of goods and services anywhere and everywhere leads to transportation of goods and services in huge volumes. This movement takes a heavy toll in the consumption of fuel resources and material resources.
The availability of perishables such as fruits and vegetables round-the-year entails material consumption in construction of storage areas and fuel consumption in running the machineries for storage. The declination of local consumption pattern in urban systems increases their dependence on other areas. The consumption pattern is linear.
Trees are used to enhance the visual appeal along the urban transport corridors, in parks for beautification, on the periphery of playfields, shading in open parking lots, aesthetical use in various other areas of the city. Trees can also be found in urban conservation areas such as heritage sites, monuments, and natural features existing in an urban system such as ridge, rivers and urban forests. So the role of autotrophs in an urban ecosystem is reduced to that of aesthetics, beautification and reduction of noise pollution and air pollution.
The amount of biomass in an urban system is immense but it finds no place in the food chain of an urban ecosystem. The effectiveness of this relationship is marred by the energy consumed in watering, pruning and maintenance of this green belt. As a result autotrophs in an urban ecosystem have become a burden for all the Planning Authorities. The proposed and existing green belts in all the urban ecosystems are facing a threat from developers who want to free up the high-value urban land for various commercial developments.
The only use that an autotroph finds in an urban ecosystem is in the form of a dead log of wood that can be used in various building construction activities. But the volume of consumption in this form exceeded the production rate disturbing the natural production-consumption cycle. The Authorities were forced to put a check on deforestation and felling of trees in general.
Some measures for urban regeneration would be like:
- More healthy consumption pattern that is based on needs.
- Urbanization should be promoted as going green and maintaining a sustainable life-style.
- Bio-degradable materials should be promoted.
- Change in material processing techniques
- Future technologies should be based on low-powered energy inputs.
- Self-sustaining urban economies should be promoted.
- The government should set up institutional framework to guide this shift in technology and material. The policy of incentives and disincentives which is being used by the Government in various other fields can act as a propellant of change.
- Preserve and conserve the ecosystem in urban areas.
- Economies of scale should be promoted and mutually productive industries should be promoted which are not obnoxious.
By Shashikant Nishant Sharma
Sharma, S. N. (2013, October). Sustainable Development Strategies and Approaches. International Journal of Engineering & Technical Research, 1(8), 79-83.