What makes a city biophilic, is still an open question. Professor Tim Beatley from the University of Virginia School of Architecture offers a tentative starting point with the following as some of the key qualities of biophilic cities:

  • Biophilic cities are cities of abundant nature in close proximity to large numbers of urbanites.
  • Biophilic cities are biodiverse cities, that value, protect and actively restore this biodiversity.
  • Biophilic cities are green and growing cities, organic and natureful.

In biophilic cities, residents feel a deep affinity with the unique flora, fauna and fungi found there, and with the climate, topography, and other special qualities of place and environment that serve to define the urban home; In biophilic cities citizens can easily recognize common species of trees, flowers, insects and birds (and in turn care deeply about them).

Biophilic cities are cities that provide abundant opportunities to be outside and to enjoy nature through strolling, hiking, bicycling, exploring; biophilic cities nudge us to spend more time amongst the trees, birds and sunlight.

Biophilic cities are rich multi-sensory environments, where the sounds of nature (and other sensory experiences) are as appreciated as much as the visual or ocular experience. Biophilic cities celebrate natural forms, shapes and materials.

Biophilic cities place importance on education about nature and biodiversity, and on providing many and varied opportunities to learn about and directly experience nature. In biophilic cities there are many opportunities to join with others in learning about, enjoying, deeply connecting with, and helping to steward over nature, whether though a nature club, organized hikes, camping in city parks or volunteering for nature restoration projects.

Biophilic cities invest in the social and physical infrastructure that helps to bring urbanites in closer connection and understanding of nature, whether through natural history museums, wildlife centres, school-based nature initiatives, or parks and recreation programs and projects, among many others.

Biophilic cities are globally responsible cities that recognize the importance of actions to limit the impact of resource use on nature and biodiversity beyond their urban borders; biophilic cities take steps to actively support the conservation global nature.