Planning Ecocities for maintaining the quality of urban ecosystems
by: Swadesh Kumar1, Venkatesh Dutta1, Sadhana Jain2,
and Deepika Sharma3
Ecocity is a sustainable city that links the human beings with natural
environments. Ecocity provides good housing and good environment using
modern technologies such as eco engineering, system engineering and
information technology. Ecocity reduces harmful pollution and unnecessary
waste and contributes quality of life. A sustainable city is that where the
people are able to fulfill their needs without endangering the living
conditions and survival of other people, at present or in the future. Good
housing, good air quality, good water quality and healthy environment are
needed for a good living condition. The sustainable cities and the eco-city
planning approaches may provide solution to environmental problems.
Ecological cities enhance the status of society through integration of urban
planning. Ecocities provide solar, wind and recycling technologies, in green
buildings and green businesses, and in urban environmental restoration
projects. An ecocity is an ecologically healthy and eco friendly city.
Ecocity fulfill the basic characteristic of healthy ecosystems and
requirements of living organism. An ecocity is “An ecologically healthy
human settlement modeled on the self-sustaining resilient structure and
function of natural ecosystems and living organisms”. There are
“well-managed entities in which economic growth
and social developments are in balance with the carrying capacity of the
natural systems on which they depend for their existence, sustainable
development, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and equity”.
Need of Ecocity planning
In India the urban areas have several challenges to face. There is over
crowding of the land due to rapidly growing population. The major challenges
are related to land use, environmental quality and pollution problems.
Pressure on natural resources, sanitation, health and socioeconomic issues,
slums settlement and livelihoods, issues related to water and energy are now
burning challenges for developing countries. At present the urban services
are very poor in India. The sewage do not have a proper way to drainage, it
goes own way leaking with water lines. Landfills are becoming a source of
infection and diseases. The concept of ecocity planning is now very useful
and fruitful for developing world. The resource management and proper plan
for designing cost effective measures are needed for maintaining the city
clean and green. Rrules and regulations and initiatives from local public
are needed for implementation of these concepts.
Urbanization and Environment
Population is increasing rapidly and urbanization is pushing the cities to
unprecedented sizes and destroying the natural features of ecosystem. The
transformation of land to urban area harms the agricultural land and
habitats such as wetland and forests present in and around the city. The
land is used for roads, housing and industryies. Many environmental
scientists have stated that the basic capacity of the natural system
(biophysical component) which supports the human existence on this earth,
has reached the threshold limit just because of the urbanization. It is
expected that by the year 2025 the global population will reach about 8
billion, out of which 5 billion will be the urban population. About
476,000 hectares of arable land in the developing countries is being
transformed for urban uses annually (WRI).As the results show, the urban
areas are facing many environmental problems like soil erosion, air
pollution, depletion of ground water, climate change, flooding etc.
Initiatives for Ecocity planning
Today urban areas in developing countries are facing many environmental and
socio economic problems. World Bank has initiated urban and local government
strategy for attaining ecological and economic sustainable cities. Many Asia
Urbs projects based on ecodevelopment of cities are addressing problems as
such as slums, poverty and pollution. The purpose of these projects is to
enhance the capacity of Ecocities in India as well as Europe and fulfill the
challenges of sustainable urban development. These projects particularly
focused on environmental issues issues like sewage treatment, solid waste
management, infrastructure like water, roads, electricity and green belts.
The main objectives of these projects are to seek cooperation for
sustainable development and to develop methods and design for sustainable
development of urban cities. Indo-European web portal is an effective and
efficient networking discussion exchange programme, on these issues.
Projects for ecocity planning initiated by CPCB
(Central Pollution Control Board) are based on environmental
improvement through implementation of different methods related to sewage
drainage, solid waste management and disposal system, protection of water
bodies, improvement of traffic and transportation and plantation and
landscaping. Funding for the project is on 50:50 cost-sharing basis wherein
50% of the total budget comes from the municipality of the participating
town and 50% (limited up to Rs 25 million) from CPCB.
Used in Ecocity Development
In recent years, due to urbanization and modernization, demand of two
wheelers and four wheelers increasing day by day that leads to air
pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. Migration from rural to
urban areas in search of jobs has increased informal settlement which
disturbs the sustainability of cities. Global report on human settlement
2009 assesses the effectiveness of urban planning as tools for sustainable
development of urban areas. Clean air, fresh water, lovable sound and
productive land are the basic needs of the peoples. Many past practices are
being implemented for sustainable city planning which is based on good
housing, sanitation, electricity, quality living environment and
socioeconomic profile. Many techniques like, eco-engineering design and
development, eco-scope planning and legislation and ecosystem monitoring and
management are used for sustainable development of urban areas. Remote
sensing, GIS (Geographical Information System) and other modern database
techniques are used now-a-days for making city green. GIS is a vital tool to
identify the city green through data merging. In this method the information
is in the digitized form (such as soil map, climatic maps, topographic maps,
land use maps, land cover maps, road maps etc). Through this technique we
can identify the potential area to improve the green systems and provide a
set of plant list for those particular areas. Some of GIS tools which are
involved to develop city green are-
Topological data structures-
These help in handling the spatial relationships among lines and polygon
Spatial analysis capabilities-
These would help in manipulation and display of map and locations related
Automated Mapping technology-
It helps in handling different spatial map information system easily.
Data base management-
It helps in handling variety of data.
Remote sensing is an essential tool for analytical and descriptive subjects. These modern
techniques are being used in environmental planning, disaster management,
environmental impact assessment and monitoring. For city green plan we need
many basic information at regional scale regarding land use maps, climatic
maps etc. For the collection of all these information we require huge
manpower and it would be a time consuming process. The remote sensing
provides us all these biological and physical information at the regional
level through aerial photographs, satellite pictures directly and
With this method we set questions related to environmental factors and
functional factors and find out the appropriate plants for a location. If we
want to prepare a tree list for a plot then the following questions may be
How much area is available?
What type of building is to be built? Is it Public or Private?
What are the possible plant lists available for the region?
What are the physical characteristics of the plants?
Guidelines for Ecocity Development
Ecocity development requires ecological security, clean air, good water
supply, food, healthy housing, good municipal services and protection
against different natural calamities. Ecocity development is a whole systems
approach integrating administration, ecologically efficient industry,
people’s needs and aspirations, harmonious culture, and landscapes where
nature, agriculture and the built environment are functionally integrated.
Many religious places like Tirupati, Ujjain, Puri are considerably polluted
and during spiritual walk, pilgrims suffer from many problems. We will have
to initiate projects at local and regional level to mitigate the problems
and it could be possible only through ecocity projects initiatives. Some
guidelines are given below-
i. Ecological sanitation: Efficient, cost-effective eco-engineering for
treating and recycling human waste, gray water, and all wastes.
ii. Ecological industrial metabolism: Resource conservation and
environmental protection through industrial transition, emphasizing
materials re-use renewable energy, efficient transportation, and meeting
iii. Ecological infrastructure integrity: Arranging built structures, open
spaces such as parks and plazas, connectors such as streets and bridges, and
natural features such as waterways and ridgelines, to maximize accessibility
of the city for all citizens while conserving energy and resources and
alleviating such problems as automobile accidents, air pollution,
hydrological deterioration, heat island effects and global warming.
iv. Ecological awareness: It would help people understand their place in
nature, cultural identity, responsibility for the environment, and help them
change their consumption behavior and enhance their ability to contribute to
maintaining high quality urban ecosystems.
Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow, India,
Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun, India
Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India