Martha Henriques, BBC Future, 21 January 2019.
How do you bring wildlife back to the city?
“We realize that planning, development, architecture and industrial design are all complicit in wiping out other species on this planet,” says Mitchell Joachim, director and co-founder of Terreform, an ecological planning and architecture firm. “I am absolutely passionate about trying to restore these habitats in cities, and to instill that in how we plan our buildings.”
Sometimes that means planning a giant, eight-storey transparent vertical meadow into the walls of an office building in Manhattan. Monarch butterflies are native to North America but have been disappearing fast since the 1980s because of widespread destruction of milkweed, a plant that monarchs use while breeding. “Milkweed is a highly invasive species, humans don’t like it – it can give you a rash, or take over your beautiful American lawn,” says Mitchell.
Building a space for monarchs into the building would be part of an effort to slow their precipitous decline.
“It is a sanctuary for monarch butterflies, to breed them, with nurseries for caterpillars and areas for the chrysalises and the adult butterflies,” says Joachim. “They live there for a few weeks and then they’re released.”
To have a real impact on monarch butterfly populations, it will take more than one sanctuary. The most important thing to do is restore the butterfly’s natural habitat – within the city and outside it along its migration route to Mexico – in particular by providing more milkweed.