Bijay Singh, Amit Mitra, Shiraz Wajih

Increasing urbanisation and the accompanying changes in land-use patterns are leading to a silent crisis through the destruction of ecosystems and the services they provide to support the poor, as well as affecting the resilience of urban areas. Using the example of Gorakhpur City in India’s Uttar Pradesh, this paper argues that not following basic ecosystem-based approaches to development – including understanding urban, peri-urban and rural areas and their associated systems – can be detrimental for both populations and the ecosystem itself. Critical to such approaches is a better understanding of the linkages between urban and peri-urban areas, going beyond mere spatial conceptualisations. The supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural services provided by ecosystems are vital for the livelihoods of people as well as for resilience to climate shocks. Measures to restore ecosystems need unconventional approaches involving multiple disciplines. They must involve the people who are the actual keepers of the ecosystems at all levels. Central to such approaches would be preventing haphazard land conversion for construction and urban construction which have a tremendous cost for both people and the ecosystem and which affect the city’s resilience. Reviving ecosystems also means attending to people’s development needs, especially health and education.

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