Urban impacts across realms: Making the case for inter-realm monitoring and management
Burgeoning populations and the increasing concentration of humans in urban areas have resulted in extensive and increasing degradation and destruction of natural ecosystems. The multitude of impacts and their drivers in urban areas across realms are often studied at local scales, but there is regularly a mismatch between the spatial extent of the impacts and that of the pressures driving those impacts. For example, most human activities occur on land and therefore disturb terrestrial habitats (intrinsic impacts), but their impacts can also extend to the atmosphere and aquatic realms (extrinsic impacts). Management of urban impacts is often designed at local scales and aims to control local pressures, mostly overlooking pressures originating outside the 'managed' area. This is often due to jurisdictional barriers but can also result from the lack of knowledge and recognition among scientists and managers of larger scale pressures. With the aim to highlight the importance of ameliorating extrinsic impacts for holistic management of urban areas, this paper discusses the range and extent of extrinsic impacts produced by the most common pressures in urban environments. We discuss that the terrestrial realm is a 'net-donor' of impacts, as most human activities occur on land and the resulting impacts are transferred to aquatic and atmospheric realms. However, activities in aquatic realms can result in impacts on land. We conclude that, to achieve effective management strategies, greater collaboration is needed between scientists and managers focussing on different realms and regions and we present suggestions for approaches to achieve this.