City of the Species

 

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How can a tree take part in urban planning? How to voice the political interests of birds and bees? These are some of the challenges we are currently tackling in the city of Aarhus, Denmark.

Meet Arternes Aarhus, a Danish initiative with the English title City of the Species. We are driven by a deep love of all the strange, surprising, ugly and cute creatures that we share our urban habitat with. There are so many wonderful and weird insects, birds, and mushrooms to be discovered right out there in the streets and parks of the city.

Consider this: Could we think of our feathery, six-legged, and blossoming “neighbours” as a forgotten and marginalized group of citizens? When has any architect last asked the opinion of owl and swallow when designing a building? When have any urban planners last considered the needs of wild bees and oak trees when sketching out a new square?

In Aarhus, we want to see what happens, when other species can take part in urban planning. Putting playfulness, creativity and humor at front we have formed City of the Species.

Ambassador of the seagulls

We give other species a voice by appointing ambassadors of other species living in our city. So far, 25 species have received their own ambassador, including the fox, the seagull, the linden tree and a little, wild bee called the tawny mining bee.

Anyone living in Aarhus can become an ambassador. Our saying goes “you don’t have to be an expert, you will become an expert”. Hence, our group of ambassadors is a diverse bunch of people, including students as well as retirees, artist, business people and entrepreneurs, just to mention a few. Our youngest ambassador is 12 years old and our oldest is 68 years old. They all have one thing in common; their heart is beating for wildlife – and so they have decided to spend some of their spare time giving nature a voice.

Read more about four of our ambassadors and what they do in these three portraits: Linden tree ambassador HannahTo bee or not to bee ambassador, The cutest beetle in town.

Want to get involved?

Would you like to start a similar initiative in your city? We would love to help you getting started. Send an email to coordinator of City of the Species, Nina Tofte Hansen on: nina@rodnet.org or give us a call on: +45-2094 8423.

 

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