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Key Objective: 8.1 Urban Biodiversity Master Plan

The iCAP 2020, objective 8.1 is: “Develop a coordinated urban biodiversity master plan by FY24 to make the Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and campus metro area a model for biodiversity.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is Extension with the support of F&S. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for the Urban Biodiversity Master Plan.

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Explanation

Maintaining biological diversity in our plants, animals, and ecosystems is one of the most impactful first steps we can take toward strengthening our communities’ overall resilience.

Integrating native plants and greenspaces into local urban areas is central to our biodiversity master plan. These efforts include:

  • Leveraging tree canopies and other vegetation to manage stormwater, improve air quality, reduce atmospheric CO2, and curb the heat island effect often experienced in built communities.

  • Planting species that are likely to adapt well to projected climate changes.

  • Installing native plantings to support pollinator, insect predator, and bird habitats.

In addition to supporting native plants, pollinators, and land and water health, our biodiversity plan supports human health and well-being; for example, minimizing illnesses associated with ticks and mosquitos and reducing the adverse environmental impacts of homeowner landscape and lawn maintenance practices. Urban greenspace and landscape beautification are also proven to reduce levels of anxiety and stress.

In keeping with our Engagement objectives, we want to encourage community members to become involved with and excited about these biodiversity strategies. Community gardens and food forests (to be included in the master plan) will provide opportunities for residents to engage with the ways biodiversity impacts everything from the ground beneath their feet to the food on their table. 

As we implement the above practices, we will develop corresponding monitoring programs to assess effectiveness, making the metro area a “test bed” for informative, innovative biodiversity planning. With this information, we will draft model ordinances to use in our metro area and to share with other communities. 

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