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Urban shades of green: Current patterns and future prospects of nature conservation in urban landscapes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Natural Resource Management)
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.
Keyword [en]
urbanisation, nature conservation, urban planning, urban systems, nature reserves, Sweden
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-46150ISBN: 978-91-7447-194-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-46150DiVA: diva2:382544
Public defence
2011-02-04, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
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
List of papers
1. Patterns and challenges of urban nature conservation - a study of southern Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Patterns and challenges of urban nature conservation - a study of southern Sweden
2009 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409, Vol. 41, no 11, 2671-2685 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The current, dominating strategy of nature conservation within urban landscapes is to formally protect remaining patches of unexploited nature in nature reserves. However, integration of nature conservation frameworks into urban planning requires reconsideration of key issues, such as why, where, and how to protect nature in a purposeful way. As part of that process I statistically evaluate current nature conservation in 209 municipalities in southern Sweden by analysing the number, size, age, and land cover patterns of 1869 nature reserves in relation to the degree of urbanisation. The analyses reveal that in urban municipalities the nature reserves are fewer, but larger, and have a higher diversity of land covers. Having large nature reserves may be especially important in urban landscapes, since it is often highly fragmented. The land cover compositions show no differences between urban and rural nature reserves. However, urban nature reserves differ more from their surroundings compared with rural nature reserves, according to the identified changes in representation of land cover types with an increasing degree of urbanisation. The most urgent future challenge identified is to develop urban nature conservation strategies that are integrated into the urban context including other green areas and built-up areas, the land-use history, and the requirements for local ecosystem services across the landscape.

National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32682 (URN)10.1068/a41312 (DOI)000272493400010 ()
Available from: 2009-12-15 Created: 2009-12-15 Last updated: 2011-01-03Bibliographically approved
2. Outside the boundary - land use changes in the surroundings of urban nature reserves
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Outside the boundary - land use changes in the surroundings of urban nature reserves
2012 (English)In: Applied Geography, ISSN 0143-6228, E-ISSN 1873-7730, Vol. 32, no 2, 350-359 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The importance of the landscape surrounding a protected area for sustaining its values is frequently discussed in conservation literature. Studies on the interactions of urbanisation and nature conservation at the global scale suggest that protected nature attracts urbanisation, and that this in turn might negatively impact the area. However, studies specifically addressing such land use dynamics at city scale are largely missing. In this study we examine the change in proportion of built up area in two zones (500 m and 1000 m) surrounding 15 urban nature reserves in southern Sweden. By using comprehensive maps from the last 50 years, we compared the zones to the overall urbanisation in the cities to reveal discrepancies in land use surrounding the nature reserves. We found that the amount of built up area in the buffer zones surrounding nature reserves followed the same trend as the corresponding cities and this relation was stable over time, although the positive relationship was not significant. The establishment of nature reserves had no detectable effect on surrounding land use, however two distinguished groups of reserves were identified with either more or less built up area in buffers zones compared to cities. These differences were related to specific local drivers such as land ownership, land use history and nature reserve location. In contrast to earlier studies at global scale, our study did not show that nature reserves attract urbanisation. Instead, we stress that the great variety of contextual factors at the city scale makes quantitative analysis of this kind extremely difficult. However, a general neglect from planning and nature conservation agencies to recognise nature reserves’ dependence on the surrounding landscape configuration could be detrimental to sustain their values in the long-term. Hence we suggest that zones surrounding nature-protected areas should be planned and managed according to local land use history and current landscape conditions to enable and enhance necessary cross-boundary interactions.

Keyword
protected areas, nature conservation, buffer zones, lanscape matrix, nature reserves, Sweden
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
Research subject
Systems Ecology; Natural Resources Management; Conservation Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-46155 (URN)10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.06.012 (DOI)000298362400015 ()
Note
3Available from: 2010-11-22 Created: 2010-11-22 Last updated: 2012-06-05Bibliographically approved
3. Nature conservation for what?: Analyses of urban and rural nature reserves in southern Sweden 1909-2006
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nature conservation for what?: Analyses of urban and rural nature reserves in southern Sweden 1909-2006
2013 (English)In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, E-ISSN 1872-6062, Vol. 117, 66-80 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To effectively integrate nature conservation in sustainable landscape management, it isessential to deepen the understanding of why, what, where and for whom nature isprotected. This is especially important for nature conservation in human dominatedlandscapes such as cities, where the distance between built up and protected areas is inconstant decline due to urbanisation worldwide. In this study we use historical andcurrent data from Sweden to examine how urban compared to rural nature conservationhave been using formal nature reserve objectives. The focal nature conservationobjectives in our study area were preservation of biodiversity, restoration ofenvironments and outdoor recreation, as well as subdivision of those. The use of theseobjectives were analysed for 1869 nature reserves in relation to degree of urbanisation.We found that nature reserves in more urbanised landscapes were based on a highernumber of objectives. The urban reserves also had a different composition of objectives,where the objectives outdoor recreation and biodiversity preservation were morecommon in urban than in rural reserves. During the last decades we detected a shift inuse of objectives in urban areas, going from biodiversity preservation to a strongerfocus on outdoor recreation. National and global trends in the nature conservationdebate could also be seen as reflected in the use of objectives. To ensure its adaptivecapacity, we stress that urban nature conservation needs a more proactive strategy,where potential future social as well as ecological values must be embraced and notonly existing ones.

Keyword
protected areas, urban landscapes, nature conservation, objectives, biodiversity, outdoor recreation, Sweden
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
Research subject
Systems Ecology; Natural Resources Management; Conservation Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-46153 (URN)10.1016/j.landurbplan.2013.04.010 (DOI)000322299500007 ()
Available from: 2010-11-22 Created: 2010-11-22 Last updated: 2014-10-02Bibliographically approved
4. Scale mismatches in management of urban landscapes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Scale mismatches in management of urban landscapes
2006 (English)In: Ecology & society, ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 11, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Urban landscapes constitute the future environment for most of the world’s human population.An increased understanding of the urbanization process and of the effects of urbanization at multiple scalesis, therefore, key to ensuring human well-being. In many conventional natural resource managementregimes, incomplete knowledge of ecosystem dynamics and institutional constraints often leads toinstitutional management frameworks that do not match the scale of ecological patterns and processes. Inthis paper, we argue that scale mismatches are particularly pronounced in urban landscapes. Urban greenspaces provide numerous important ecosystem services to urban citizens, and the management of theseurban green spaces, including recognition of scales, is crucial to the well-being of the citizens. From aqualitative study of the current management practices in five urban green spaces within the GreaterStockholm Metropolitan Area, Sweden, we found that 1) several spatial, temporal, and functional scalesare recognized, but the cross-scale interactions are often neglected, and 2) spatial and temporal meso-scalesare seldom given priority. One potential effect of the neglect of ecological cross-scale interactions in thesehighly fragmented landscapes is a gradual reduction in the capacity of the ecosystems to provide ecosystemservices. Two important strategies for overcoming urban scale mismatches are suggested: 1) developmentof an integrative view of the whole urban social–ecological landscape, and 2) creation of adaptivegovernance systems to support practical management.

Keyword
management, scale mismatch, urban landscapes
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Systems Ecology; Conservation Biology; Applied Environmental Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-46148 (URN)
Available from: 2010-11-22 Created: 2010-11-22 Last updated: 2011-01-03Bibliographically approved
5. Challenging dichotomies - exploring resilience as an integrative and operative conceptual framework for large-scale urban green structures
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Challenging dichotomies - exploring resilience as an integrative and operative conceptual framework for large-scale urban green structures
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.

Keyword
urban development, nature conservation, resilience, integrative and operative approaches, interdisciplinary, green wedges, Stockholm, Sweden
National Category
Ecology Landscape Architecture
Research subject
Systems Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-50221 (URN)10.1080/14649357.2013.813960 (DOI)
Available from: 2010-12-21 Created: 2010-12-21 Last updated: 2014-10-09Bibliographically approved

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