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Fostering connections to the natural world


12 August 2013

Fostering connections to the natural world

Professor Timothy Beatley, an international expert in sustainable cities and urban nature, will be co-hosted by Victoria University and Wellington City Council next week as he sets out to explore Wellington as a ‘living city’.

During his visit, Professor Beatley and filmmaker Linda Blagg will be shooting Biophilic New Zealand—the Greening of Wellington and Christchurch, with some of the filming being done at Zealandia, Wellington’s ecosanctuary.

Professor Beatley will also give a public lecture in the Council Chambers at the Town Hall on Tuesday 13 August at 6pm on the importance of nature in urban life.

Professor Beatley, from the University of Virginia, is an expert in the field of Biophilic Cities—a term used to describe cities that contain abundant nature and foster deep connections with the natural world.

Professor Charles Daugherty, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Victoria University believes the topic is capturing public interest.

“The worldwide focus on urban nature is not just about feeling good about your environment, but also providing tangible benefits to communities—such as improving health and wellbeing and economic development.

“Wellington is perfectly situated to take advantage of the opportunities in this area. It is a concept that needs to be underpinned by research, and Victoria University is working with the Wellington City Council on many initiatives encompassing urban nature.”

The Council’s Our Living City Programme Manager, Amber Bill, says: “It is a pleasure for us to welcome Professor Beatley, one of the world’s foremost researchers and authors on sustainable cities, to Wellington.”

“As a city we are very connected to nature—people go mountainbiking at lunchtime, kayak to work, dive and fish, and walk in the bush. All of this contributes to our quality of life, and is one of our competitive advantages as a city. The Council is committed to maintaining its strong international links in the sustainable cities sector and protecting and enhancing our urban-nature connections.”

Professor Timothy Beatley’s biography:

Timothy Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, School of Architecture at the University of Virginia (UVA). He directs the Biophilic Cities Project at UVA (http://biophiliccities.org/) and is co-director of the Center for Design and Health, within the School of Architecture.

Much of Professor Beatley’s work focuses on the subject of sustainable communities, and creative strategies by which cities and towns can fundamentally reduce their ecological footprints, while at the same time becoming more livable and equitable places.

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