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Understanding and applying ecological principles in cities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Renaturing cities requires a thorough understanding of how plants and animals interact with the urban environment and humans. But cities are a challenging environment for ecologists to work in, with high levels of heterogeneity and rapid rates of change. In addition, the hostile conditions often found in cities mean that each city, and region of a city, can have their own unique geographical context. In this chapter, we contrast urban ecological research in the UK and Brazil, to demonstrate the challenges and approaches needed to renature cities. In so doing, we provide a platform for global transferability of these locally contextualised approaches. The UK has a long history of urbanisation and, as a result of increasing extinction debts over 200 years, well-established urban ecological research. Research is generally focused on encouraging species back into the city. In contrast, Brazil is a biodiversity hotspot with relatively rich urban flora and fauna. This rich ecosystem is imperilled by current rapid urbanisation and lack of support for urban nature by city-dwellers. By working together and transferring expertise, UK and Brazilian researchers stand a better chance of understanding urban ecological processes and unlocking renaturing processes in each location. We present one such method for applying ecological knowledge to cities, so-called Ecological Engineering, in particular by discussing ecomimicry—the adaptive approach needed to apply global ecological principles to local urban challenges. By reading the ecological landscape in which urban developments sit and applying tailored green infrastructure solutions to new developments and greenspaces, cities may be able to reduce the rate at which extinction debt is accumulated.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlanning Cities with Nature
Subtitle of host publicationTheories, Strategies and Methods
EditorsFabiano Lemes de Oliviera, Ian Mell
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer
Pages217-234
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-01866-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-01865-8
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019

Publication series

NameCities and Nature
PublisherSpringer
ISSN (Print)2520-8306

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