Urban Ecosystems

One of Portland Audubon’s top priorities is ensuring that the Portland-Vancouver Metro Region is one of the greenest metropolitan regions in North America. On a rapidly urbanizing planet, it is essential that we build our cities in ways that protect and preserve biodiversity, air and water quality, and access to nature. And that our cities both combat and are resilient against the impacts of climate change.

Creating compact, healthy livable cities is also key to preventing urban sprawl which contributes directly to the number one threat to biodiversity, the loss and fragmentation of wildlife habitat. Portland Audubon believes access to nature within walking distance for all urban residents is critical to building a culture of conservation and is an essential component of any complete, equitable, sustainable neighborhood. Every person has a right to a healthy, sustainable community.

“What is the extinction of the condor to a child who has never known a wren?” – Robert Michael Pyle, The Thunder Tree

Portland Audubon’s Work to Protect Our Urban Environment

Portland Audubon has been a pioneer in the field of urban conservation. Mike Houck, Portland Audubon’s visionary Urban Naturalist conceived of an interconnected system of “urban wildlife refuges” in the 1980s, a vision that over time evolved into the Regional Greenspaces System. Portland Audubon also successfully advocated for the protection of Oaks Bottom, Portland’s first urban wildlife refuge and many of the other natural areas that today spread across our urban landscape.

Our urban work has always been intersectional—we work a wide array of partners and coalitions to create complete communities that have affordable housing, sustainable transportation alternatives, access to family wage jobs, access to nature, and a healthy environment. We place a high value on equity, ensuring that those who have traditionally borne the burdens of environmental degradation have a strong voice in environmental decision-making and reap the benefits of environmental initiatives..

Portland Audubon works at multiple scales to create a green, sustainable and equitable urban landscape. This includes:

  • Providing the oldest Wildlife Care Center in the United States and the busiest in Oregon to provide care and treatment for injured wildlife.
  • Providing expert advice on Living with Urban Wildlife to promote urban wildlife stewardship and resolve human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Backyard Habitat Certification Program delivered in partnership with Columbia Land Trust to promote healthy habitats at the yard and neighborhood scale.
  • Reducing Wildlife Hazards that create significant threats to urban wildlife populations