As of 2010, more than half of the planet’s population lived in cities. This will continue to grow (although at a slowing rate) and is driven by rapid urbanization in large modernizing countries such as China – from 1950 to 2005 their urbanized population grew from 13 to 40 %. By 2030 it is estimated that 6 out of 10 of the world’s citizens will live in cities.
What does this mean for the natural environment? Well there is the positive result of a higher concentration of humans in cities meaning more ‘space’ for Nature, although this is not found to be consistently true around the planet as areas of natural environment get smaller due to resource pressure. But what it also means is that there are generations of humans growing up with less contact with Nature, and with a potential decrease in empathy and understanding of the other organisms that share this planet and how they interact in a marvellous ecosystem that has taken 3.8 billion years to evolve.
Social connection and education is higher in cities, which at least offers a potential offset to this disconnection from the wilderness, provided the education is of a holistic nature. The internet and spread of social media is also a positive for the survival of Earth’s organisms, with environmental campaigns and awareness being easier to promote and organize. The Teratrees project will be part of this direction, with goals to increase human-nature interaction and the creation of a nature-minded community not constrained by geography. Trees are a universally recognized feature of landscapes and a common symbol in human consciousness.
However, there is still no substitute for being outside in green spaces. This does not solely mean in the wilderness; a local park or your own garden give benefits to the psyche and facilitate a connection which is natural and fundamental to our physical being. Teratrees hopes to increase this interaction and the sharing of this activity with others. Fundamentally, our relationship and understanding of Nature will determine our role on this planet, as partners or as parasites.