Top ten threats to nature in the city - study

City Park (iStock)
City Park (iStock)

The top ten potential threats to the environment in cities have been released, and some of them may surprise you.

Drones, scattering cremation ashes and digital mimicry of nature are among the top ten reasons cities may become nature-free zones in the future, in the University of Auckland's School of Biological Sciences study.

Experts from Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand identified current and new technologies that show the biggest threat to urban ecosystems.

"We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater – some of these new technologies bring a range of environmental benefits," says lead author Dr Margaret Stanley.

"But clever solutions are going to be needed to mitigate threats to urban biodiversity if we are to maintain our connection with nature as we become increasingly urbanised."

Green spaces are becoming maintained for people rather than wildlife, such as tracks, artificial lighting and fewer plants

Images and sound recordings of nature, used to give the benefit of nature without the maintenance, could leave city residents undervaluing nature in their immediate environment

Cremation becomes a popular choice as space for burial is at a premium. High levels of phosphate and calcium in cremains could risk polluting urban ecosystems.

There are now more than 600 million cats worldwide, pushing the disease toxoplasma to wildlife populations, including the endangered Hector's dolphin.

It's a growing trend for cities to switch to LED lights, but the white light can disrupt the physiology and behaviour of wildlife.

Solar panels can disrupt the behaviour and reproduction of animals attracted to the polarised light they create.

Nanoparticles, found in smartphones and clothing, are invisible but their use is on the rise in cities. There has been almost no research on the effects of these particles on animals, plants and ecosystems.

The concrete product is infused with specialised bacteria, and is about to become commercialised. If it proves popular it would rule out biodiversity that thrives in cracked concrete all around cities.

Large-scale retrofitting of buildings shuts them off from the outside, resulting in a loss of breeding sites for wildlife such as bats and nesting birds.

The popularity of using drones in cities is likely to upset wildlife such as nesting birds, which are particularly sensitive to stress and repeated aerial disturbance.

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