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Challenging dichotomies - exploring resilience as an integrative and operative conceptual framework for large-scale urban green structures
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2013 (English)In: Planning Theory & Practice, ISSN 1464-9357, E-ISSN 1470-000X, Vol. 14, no 3, 349-372 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Balancing interests of urban growth and development against the need to safeguard socially equitable and ecologically functional green space is a core urban planning issue. These urban needs are still commonly seen through a modernist lens where green areas are viewed as an antithesis to the city, creating a polarized landscape seemingly free from cross-scale social and ecological interactions.

This study aims to challenge this polarisation by using the concept of resilience both as a theoretical umbrella and applied to a case study. More operative and integrative planning approaches to large-scale urban green structures are here explored and discussed. The study reports on a trans-disciplinary work process designed by the authors as a sequence of workshops attended by ecologists, urban planners, architects, landscape architects and environmental historians and outreach meetings set in comprehensive planning and policy contexts. The explorations took the form of design experiments based in a suburban stretch of Stockholm (Sweden) which served as a basis for the discussions. This approach aimed to bring questions from a theoretical and general level and to discuss these in relation to a specific, local context in order to explore key points of conflict and possible alternatives.

Three recurring themes upholding dichotomist views on the urban landscape were identified: 1) large size and scale mismatches, 2) problems of artificial borders; and 3) static views of urban nature leading to a lack of interest in future potential. The resilience concept was useful for highlighting options and opening up for innovation and change, but at the same time it was identified as in need of complementary approaches to identify goals and to bring people on board. Through our design experiments, we show how synergies and social-ecological resilience can encourage creative solutions rather than polarizing positions. Drawing on recent practice-based discourse on large parks, we suggest the adoption of legibility, i.e. to work with people's perceptions and understanding of their surroundings through design, within the resilience framework. There is a clear need to further explore how such approaches can complement the resilience concept in social-ecological systems governance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 14, no 3, 349-372 p.
Keyword [en]
urban development, nature conservation, resilience, integrative and operative approaches, interdisciplinary, green wedges, Stockholm, Sweden
National Category
Ecology Landscape Architecture
Research subject
Systems Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-50221DOI: 10.1080/14649357.2013.813960OAI: diva2:380652
Available from: 2010-12-21 Created: 2010-12-21 Last updated: 2014-10-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Urban shades of green: Current patterns and future prospects of nature conservation in urban landscapes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Urban shades of green: Current patterns and future prospects of nature conservation in urban landscapes
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Urban nature provides local ecosystem services such as absorption of air pollutants, reduction of noise, and provision of places for recreation, and is therefore crucial to urban sustainable development. Nature conservation in cities is also part of the global effort to halt biodiversity decline. Urban landscapes, however, display     distinguishing social and ecological characteristics and therefore the implementation of nature conservation frameworks into cities, requires reconsideration of what nature to preserve, for whom and where. The aim of this thesis was to examine the current urban nature conservation with special focus on formally protected areas, and discuss their future role in the urban landscape. A social-ecological systems approach was used as framework and both quantitative and qualitative methods were applied. The studies were performed at local to regional scales in the southern part of Sweden. Four key questions were addressed: i) What are the characteristics of nature conservation in urban landscapes? ii) How does establishment of nature conservation areas affect the surrounding urban landscape? iii) In what ways are spatial and temporal scales recognized in practical management of nature conservation areas? and iv) How can the dichotomy of built up and nature conservation areas be overcome in urban planning? Nature reserves in urban, compared to rural landscapes were in general fewer, but larger and included a higher diversity of land covers. They were also based on a higher number and different kinds of objectives than rural nature reserves. Urbanisation adjacent to nature reserves followed the general urbanisation patterns in the cities and no additional increase in urban settlements could be detected. In general, there was a lack of social and ecological linkages between the nature conservation areas and the urban landscape and practical management showed a limited recognition of cross-scale interactions and meso-scales. Such conceptual and physical isolation risks decreasing the public support for nature conservation, cause biodiversity decline, and hence impact the generation of ecosystem services. A major future challenge is therefore to transform current conservation strategies to become a tool where urban nature is perceived, planned and managed as valuable and integrated parts of the city. To enable social-ecological synergies, future urban planning should address proactive approaches together with key components like active enhancement of multifunctional landscapes, cross-scale strategies and border zone management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2011. 59 p.
urbanisation, nature conservation, urban planning, urban systems, nature reserves, Sweden
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-46150 (URN)978-91-7447-194-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-02-04, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 5: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-01-13 Created: 2010-11-22 Last updated: 2011-01-14Bibliographically approved

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