I grew up in Lancaster, PA, which is a small city that is fairly densely urbanized relative to its small size. The city is surrounded by suburbs, and outside of that, farmland. Although I enjoyed the walkability of the community where I grew up, there were no wild areas at all within a half-mile or so walking distance of my house, the entire area was urbanized and the only parks had mowed lawn and landscaping. The closest I got to “wild” were the weeds growing in the little alley behind my house.
When I moved to Newark, Delaware for grad school, I started to get interested in birdwatching and I noticed that many of the areas within walking distance of my house had extensive wild areas. Not only were there parks with wild forest and wetlands, but even the middle of the larger “city blocks” were sometimes populated by ovegrown, semi-wild areas. You can view this on an aerial photo if you go to Newark, DE on Google maps, relative to Lancaster, PA.
I later moved into Philadelphia and I found myself back in the situation where there were few wild areas within walking distance, and I found myself seeking out the “best I could get”, like a poorly-maintained cemetary that was overgrown.
I have since realized that it is a high priority for me to live in an area where there are wild areas nearby. Not parks with mowed lawn and landscaping, but wild forest, wetland, grassland, or other habitats.
It doesn’t need to be “high quality” habitat. I.e. near me now, there is a former industrial site that is in the process of being developed, and it’s growing up with early-successional grassland, and it’s exciting because not only have I discovered a lot of interesting plant species growing there, including ones I haven’t found elsewhere in the area, but there are also unique birds, like Northern Harriers and Killdeer, that I don’t see throughout most of the region.
I’ve decided that anywhere I live from now on, I want there to be wild areas within walking distance of my house, ideally, something at least right out my door. But it doesn’t need to be big or “ecologically intact”. Overgrown industrial sites, minimally-maintained strips of land along railroads, and things like that, are good enough for me.
I just don’t want to be surrounded by manicured lawns, city, and heavily-maintained parkland.
I also would really love to see more people feeling this way because I think that, over time, if there were more “demand” in society for stuff like this, some of those sterile lawn+landscaping parks colud be converted to wild greenspace like forest and/or wetlands that had much more ecological value. Homeowners and commercial properties could also incorporate semi-wild areas into their landscpaing, like allowing areas where plants can reproduce by seed and simply trimming back ones that are too close to buildings or paths, and removing any particularly problematic plants like poison ivy growing near a path or a tree that might some day heave the sidewalk with its roots.
So yeah, this is how I feel about this stuff! Not only is this important in where I am going to choose to live from now on, but I would love for it to become more important to more people, so that it could have a cascading effect on land use in a way that would benefit both people and biodiversity.