Write On and The Ridges Nature Sanctuary are pleased to present environmentalist John Hartig, of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, for a discussion of his most recent book Bringing Conservation to Cities, the story of how innovative public-private partnerships are making nature part of everyday urban life.
Bringing Conservation to Cities is the story of building North America’s only international wildlife refuge in a nearly seven million person urban area that also represents the automobile capitals of the United States and Canada (i.e., Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario metropolitan area). It presents unique insights into how innovative public-private partnerships are making nature part of everyday urban life in an effort to develop a conservation ethic.
The percentage of people in the world living in urban areas has increased from 29% in 1950 to 54% in 2014 and is projected to increase to 60% by 2030. Today, nearly 80% of all Americans and Canadians live in urban areas. Most urban residents are disconnected from the natural world. Therefore, there is growing interest in re-connecting urban residents with nature. Compounding this problem is the fact that most conservationists avoid cities and want to work in pristine or wilderness areas. Furthermore, when scientific assessments are made, most urban areas are found to be too degraded to rank high enough on conservation priority lists.
Bringing Conservation to Cities is a timely and informative expose of what it takes to foster a conservation ethic in a major urban area, complete with critical lessons learned, and to simultaneously inspire and develop the next generation of conservationists that must be developed with increasing frequency in urban areas because that is where most people on our planet live. If you are interested in exploring this new urban conservation frontier, one that has numerous challenges and opportunities, and in fostering more urban conservation initiatives throughout the world, than Bringing Conservation to Cities is a must read.
John H. Hartig is refuge manager for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and serves on the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy board of directors. He is an award-winning author on conservation science.