On May 15, 2013, community stakeholders with a shared interest in urban biodiversity participated in a summit held at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Summit celebrated the existing efforts and projects already underway across the St. Louis region to promote and protect biodiversity, while also identifying critical gaps and needs in the areas of biodiversity understanding, awareness, and willingness/incentives to act.
Summit participants urged the development and implementation of a regional biodiversity initiative. It is in this spirit that BiodiverseCity St. Louis—a community initiative to promote, protect, and plan for biodiversity throughout the Greater St. Louis Region—will shape its priorities and programs.
Summit participants acknowledged that in addition to needing engaged people who want to get involved, help, and recruit others to do the same, the initiative will need an organizing body to initially convene, connect, facilitate, and propel the efforts forward. The Missouri Botanical Garden is committed to serving in this role.
BiodiverseCity St. Louis recognizes our region’s reliance on biodiversity and natural systems. We depend on biodiversity not only for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, but also for the basic health, livability, and economic prosperity of our region. Biodiversity also clothes us, cures us, inspires us, and enriches us. At all levels and in all ways, biodiversity drives our economies and makes life as we know it possible.
BiodiverseCity St. Louis calls for everyone in our shared community—city governments, corporations, nonprofit organizations, universities, schools, scientists, concerned citizens, homeowners, families, and community leaders—to get informed, get involved, and take action. To more formally shape and steer this initiative community groups will be formed in order to plan and ultimately implement efforts on the following fronts:
- Strategic planning, development, and leadership: Engaging the community, defining measures of success, setting shared and achievable goals, identifying resource needs, establishing milestone timelines, securing short- and long-term funding.
- Public awareness, engagement, and education: Communication goals and objectives, ecological literacy polls and surveys, online portal/community forum website, outreach plans, campaigns, educational programming for multiple audiences: businesses, municipalities, general public, families, students, etc.
- Research and data gathering: Natural resources inventory, documenting what we know, prioritizing what we want to know, developing and contributing to a multi-disciplinary research agenda.
- Economic and policy incentives/opportunities: Working with the business community and local/regional governments to identify opportunities to incentivize and spur urban biodiversity throughout our region.
- Action projects: Ecological restoration and built environment/infrastructure projects in a diversity of settings: parks, schools, neighborhoods, homes, parking lots, corporate campuses, schools and universities, highways, vacant lots, etc.