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Reconnecting with nature: Developing urban spaces in the age of climate change


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Climate change is occurring around us and impacting on our daily lives, meaning that we have to deal with our cities in a different way. There is also increasing awareness of the need for daily contact with green spaces and the natural environment in order to live a happy, productive and meaningful life. This reflective essay tells the narrative of how urbanisation has been disconnecting humans from nature. Non-sustainable, non-resilient patterns of urbanisation, along with the neglect of inner-city areas, have resulted in fragmentation and urban decline, led to a loss of biodiversity, and caused the deterioration of ecosystems and their services. Urban regeneration projects allow us to ‘repair’ and restore some of this damage whilst enhancing urban resilience. Connecting existing and enhanced ecosystems, and re-establishing ecosystems both within cities and at the peri-urban fringe is vital for strengthening ecosystem resilience and building adaptive capacity for coping with the effects of climate change. Cities worldwide need to look for suitable solutions to increase the resilience of their urban spaces in the face of climate change. This essay explores how this can be achieved through the integration of nature-based solutions, the re-greening of neighbourhoods and by correctly attributing value to natural capital. Transforming existing cities and neighbourhoods in this way will enable ecosystems to contribute their services towards healthier and more liveable cities.
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The seriousness and urgency caused by global
With global warming and the impacts of climate change, we
will need to seriously rethink how our cities should evolve to
become more resilient and resource-efficient. A group of leading
scientists have warned of grim prospects if we keep abusing the
planet, and that the commitment of the Paris Agreement (2016)
to keep warming at two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial lev-
els may not be enough to ‘park’ the planet’s climate trajectory
at a stable temperature (IPCC, 2018; Nature, 2018; UNEP, 2017).
Jonathan Watts described the ‘domino-effect of climate events’
that could shift the Earth into a hothouse state, arguing that
prominent scientists have warned that crossing such a threshold
would make efforts to reduce emissions increasingly futile (Watts,
2018). The loss of the Greenland ice sheet could disrupt the
Gulf Stream, in turn raising sea levels and accelerating Antarctic
ice loss, triggering a cascade of melting ice, warmer seas, shift-
ing currents, dying forests and the release of methane trapped in
Siberian permafrost that could tilt the Earth into a ‘hothouse’
state (4°C warmer than the pre-industrial era) beyond which
human efforts to lower emissions will be increasingly impossible.
In ‘Losing Earth’, Nathaniel Rich writes (2018, p. 2):
“If by some miracle we are able to limit global warming to
two degrees Celsius, we will only have to negotiate the extinc-
tion of the world’s tropical reefs, sea-level rise of several
meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf. The climate
scientist James Hansen has called two-degree warming
“a prescription for long-term disaster.” Long-term disas-
ter is now the best-case scenario. Three-degree warming is
a prescription for short-term disaster: forests in the Arctic
and the loss of most coastal cities. Robert Watson, a former
director of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, has argued that three-degree warming is
the realistic minimum. Four degrees: Europe in permanent
drought; vast areas of China, India and Bangladesh claimed
by desert; Polynesia swallowed by the sea; the Colorado
River thinned to a trickle; the American Southwest largely
Climate change is not something in a faraway future but is already
around us and impacting on our daily lives. All this has created
an urgency that means we will have to deal with our cities
in a different way.
Our disconnect from nature
Within a very short time, humans have experienced transition
from a life predominantly spent outside towards a very differ-
ent life inside buildings. We have changed how we live, and a
fundamental change in our relationship with nature has been the
result. Over 80% of the UK’s population currently live in urban
areas, and a large portion are estranged from nature (Office
for National Statistics, 2016). Today 90% of our lives is spent
indoors, in controlled interior environments (ASHRAE, 2010);
with increasing ‘screen-time’ spent online.
Everything about how we define ourselves today, our cities,
industries and our technologies, have only been on Earth for
a relatively short period. The earth began to develop around
4.5 billion years ago. Although Homo sapiens emerged some
200,000 years ago, the human impact only really began with the
impact of agriculture; for instance, the Australian aborigines used
fire to assist hunting before that (they also avoided burning
certain areas to retain food sources in drought years). We are a
comparatively young species, and all the while we have been
constantly pulling back from nature. Although we have seen our-
selves increasingly as separate from and superior to nature, our
impact upon nature has been immense. Biodiversity evolves
as different species share the same ecosystem where relation-
ships between the species develop. In this balanced system, the
planet’s biodiversity has grown to include 30 million different
species. Each species is necessary for keeping something in
balance in the natural world, yet we have not respected or
maintained this delicate balance. Since the time of the dinosaurs
65 million years ago, there has not been this level of sustained
destruction on our planet. The current rapid loss of biodiversity is
quite possibly the biggest disaster ever.
In the big picture of Earth’s evolution, Homo sapiens has only
been around for a very short time, and it is likely that the Earth
will still be around for a long time even after we have destroyed
ourselves as a species (the reason why Martin Seligman argues
that we have been misnamed as Homo sapiens, and are not a
‘wise’ species at all).
But today, a new awareness is emerging that is driving the
regeneration and re-greening of our cities. Humans are able to
and have a desire to participate in the community of life and in
nature, interacting with all of the species on this planet, without
necessarily destroying any of it, let alone destroying all of it.
Aboriginal Australians are living proof of how we can take a
different approach to nature. They represent over 50,000 years
of uninterrupted living culture, based on the ‘touching the Earth
lightly’ concept, meaning that you only take from nature what
you really need at that particular moment. Yet over the last
35,000 years we have gradually changed our relationship with
nature. Around this time we see the first cave paintings and
simple tools being developed, followed around 10,000 years
ago by the shift to agriculture, drawing on an awareness of the
cycles and seasons of nature. This has been a process of empow-
ering ourselves, taming the natural world and taking control
of our own lives and our own destiny. We are not at the mercy
of nature; we can farm the land, build dwellings that resist
nature’s forces, and we can harness what agriculture offers.
Everything changed again with scientific discovery, technology
and the Industrial Revolution. Over the last 300 years we saw that
we could manipulate nature through the emergence of science.
Humankind started to believe that it had dominion over the Earth;
and that the Earth and nature have to serve us in our own evolu-
tion. Just think of the discoveries of philosophers and scientists
like Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and Newton. Their under-
standing was that nature was meaningless and purposeless, and its
only function was to ‘serve humans in their evolution’. Descartes
for instance believed that animals had no feelings. His belief
was: ‘Man is at the top and Earth is here for us to use, to
exploit’ (see: Figure 1). The seminal book ‘The limits to growth’
(Meadows et al., 1972) displayed the limits of finite resources
and noted that the whole Industrial Revolution was about taking
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and extracting minerals and resources, and disposing of waste,
with a complete disregard for the environment (see: Figure 2).
Climate change is caused by humans, through the production of
heat-trapping greenhouse gases caused by carbon-dioxide. We
have changed the whole dynamics of the planet in a very short
time, and we have disrupted billions of years of evolution. Earth
was always able to regulate itself, self-regulating the tempera-
ture and weather system - fragile systems which have now fallen
out of balance. The complex interactive, self-regulating system
of biosphere, geosphere and atmosphere has become messed up
by global warming and the dangerous effects of climate change.
We have been destroying billions of years of creativity and
evolution that enabled all of the vitality on Earth to co-exist
side-by-side. However, we are just awakening to this mistake;
the Earth and nature are not things to dominate and exploit, but
a community we are to be part of, to enjoy and participate in.
Understanding and enjoying nature within the city
The study of ecology allows for an understanding of the Earth
as a single living system that is in balance. Within this system,
cities evolve as the greatest creation of humankind and yet
cities are also a source of overload and environmental stress.
Cities can possess degrading conditions - just think of window-
less work environments, over-crowded housing, air pollution and
noise. They are not obvious places to connect with the natural
Cronon (1995) asserts that urban inhabitants have created a
wholly artificial view of what nature and wilderness are, based
on ideas of open space and grandeur that do not correspond to
the lived reality of the people who inhabit rural spaces. The view
of nature as a pristine and uninhabited space makes it difficult
to see nature on a smaller, less imposing scale, and to appreciate
for instance that a tree in an urban back garden can equate to a
tree growing in a forest; that the two trees are identical despite
the different setting. The forest tree somehow has a greater
perceived natural value and nature is seen as being something
that does not belong within the city (Cronon, 1995).
Rautio & colleagues (2017) argue that this does not have to be
the case. In working with children in Finland they have found
that urban inhabitants are not disconnected from nature; there is
plenty of nature present in urban environments for them to explore.
To imply that urban children are disconnected is to disregard
the ways in which nature is present in and encroaches on their
lives. Their focus is on how children’s relationships with nature
emerge based upon the setting which they are in. The children’s
understanding of nature in the urban environment is an
assemblage, and may not always be positive as shown in one
child’s description of an urban gull on a landfill site. The author
argues that what is significant here is that nature should not be
viewed as something that exists beyond the city, but instead,
environmental education research and practice could and
should intensely focus on the everyday materialisations of
complex historical, societal, political and cultural conditions
that give rise to environmental phenomena, human attitudes and
relations included.
Hand & colleagues (2017) explored how children living in
urban environments respond to different natural environments.
They noted that urban back gardens represented the main source
of interaction with biodiversity for these children, and that
children were not spending less time in nature due to the lack
of natural environments in urban areas, but rather that lifestyle
factors, including parental limits and the attraction of electronic
Figure 1. Diagram ‘Ego-Eco’ – Humankind is part of the ecosystem, not apart from or above it. This diagram depicts this simple fact
clearly (diagram: S. Lehmann, 2010).
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media over natural play spaces, were the cause of the children’s
increasing disconnect with nature. A behavioural shift is needed
to reattribute value and importance to time that is spent outdoors
in a biodiverse environment. Although Rautio et al. (2017) argue
that the urban population is not necessarily disconnected from
nature, it is fair to say that the time spent connecting with nature
is decreasing for certain groups within society. The penetration of
technology into our everyday lives has led to the development of
a ‘heads-down’ generation who spend more ‘screen-time’ indoors
and less time on outdoor activities, and who do not necessarily
place the same value on natural encounters.
Connecting with nature makes people come alive and nourishes
the senses. Today, we are at a turning point. We understand that
cities need to be built on regenerative principles, as we start to
grasp how everything in life and the environment is connected. We
are revisiting the wisdom of nature to inform our organisational
structures (e.g. local food production) and realise that nature has a
profound positive influence on our health and well-being. We have
arrived at a new understanding, that we are merely participants
in the natural world. We rediscover indigenous traditions
and the interdependence of all things in nature, things which
coexist together. The inter-connectedness of things - it means
that we are not in a privileged position to exploit or destroy the
ecosystem. In fact the opposite is true. We have a position of
stewardship, where we must lead in a respectful and responsible
relationship to the natural world. We are not ‘above’ nature.
The quality of our social, professional and ecological relation-
ships is at the core of what makes us feel alive, happy and safe.
Part of this are walkable neighbourhoods on a human scale and
the ability to enjoy nature within the city. Urban designers world-
wide aim to bring nature back into the city, to compensate for a
lack of parks, gardens and green spaces in cities. Today, we
talk about the concept of ‘Urban Metabolism’, a model which
understands cities as a living organism. Urban metabolism
analyses the flows of energy, resources, food, people and
materials in cities (as if the city were an ecosystem) and pro-
vides a framework for the study of the interactions of natural
and human systems, using the metaphor of the city as a living
organism. Ecologist Arthur George Tansley (1871–1955)
expanded the term in 1935 to encompass the material and ener-
getic streams (Tansley, 1935). Seminal texts by different authors
offer further ecological wisdom on the architect’s relationship
with landscapes and their ecosystems (Carson, 1962; Girardet,
2008; McDonough & Braungart, 2002; McHarg, 1969; Register,
A new deep understanding of nature has emerged that sees the
commonality of all of life as part of the same ecosystem, and
it influences our thinking of cities as living organisms (one
of these approaches is ‘urban metabolism’). The concept that
the Earth is a self-correcting organism, the so-called Gaia
hypothesis, was developed by James E. Lovelock in 1975 and pub-
lished in 1979 (Lovelock, 1979). It states that the Earth is a vulner-
able system in balance, and that the temperature of the planet and
its atmosphere are produced and maintained by the sum of living
organisms. The Gaia hypothesis is based on the idea that all life
on earth functions as a single system. This system both defines
and maintains the conditions necessary for its survival. Lovelock
argues that the earth’s living matter – including the atmosphere,
oceans and land areas – combine to create a complex system with
the ability to keep our planet a place fit for life.
The Gaia hypothesis has fundamentally altered the way
scientists view evolution and the environment, but not all
agree. Contrary to the Gaia hypothesis, which suggests the Earth
has a self-righting tendency, Johan Rockstroem, Director of
the Stockholm Resilience Centre (2018) and numerous other
leading scientists say that the feedbacks of global warming
could push the planet to a more extreme state. In the face of this
scenario what we need are strategies to mitigate the effects of
climate change (greening up cities will not make a difference
unless there is a sharp reduction in the use of fossil fuels).
From garden cities to Biophilia: healthy and resilient
One important characteristic of complex urban systems is
their resilience. Urban resilience of cities means the ability to
maintain human and ecosystem functions simultaneously over
the long-term (Alberti & Marzluff, 2004). Urban resilience, also
called adaptive capacity, refers to a city’s ability to cope with and
recover quickly from hardship or crisis. A resilient city is
typically one that is prepared and well-equipped to contend with and
mitigate the multiple effects of climate change, such as urban heat
islands, heatwaves, urban flooding, energy blackouts and potential
Figure 2. Diagram: The linear extraction process of resources is unsustainable (diagram: S. Lehmann, 2012).
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disasters. A resilient city has a robust infrastructural system and
can even turn a crisis into a positive development (Meerow
et al., 2016; Mitchell & Harris, 2012).
Redefining cities in the age of global warming goes right to the
core of our ability to adapt, and underpins our complicated
relationship with nature, technology and place. For some time
now humankind has been out of touch with nature and has lost
its connection to the natural world. There is a need for us to
renew our connection with nature since this is key to both good
health and resilience. Related to this is the importance of re-
greening cities and introducing nature-based solutions through
urban regeneration projects (such as the examples shown at
Figure 3).
A healthy city is conscious of health of its residents and striv-
ing to improve it. Thus, a healthy city has a strong commitment
to health and wellbeing, and a process to achieve it. The WHO
report (2014) refers to the need for sufficient green spaces in
cities and defines what a Healthy City is: “A healthy city is one
that continually creates and improves its physical and social
environments and expands the community resources that enable
people to mutually support each other in performing all
the functions of life and developing to their maximum
potential. This approach puts health high on the political and
social agenda of cities and builds a strong movement for public
health at the local level. It strongly emphasizes equity, partici-
patory governance and solidarity, inter-sectoral collaboration
and action to address the determinants of urban health. The
concept of Healthy Cities was inspired and supported by the
WHO European Health for All strategy and the Health21
targets and is aligned with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
As predicted by Rachel Carson in ‘Silent Spring’ in 1962,
we are now in the process of redefining our relationship with
nature, and how our lives depend upon it. This new understand-
ing is not about giving up technology, but rather developing the
most advanced technologies to date, for instance through the
biological revolution and nanotechnology. We have to use that
rich and available knowledge to find new and better solutions,
employing ideas of ‘biomimicry’ (Benyus, 2002; Neves & Francke,
The emulation of nature’s genius is a promising path for our
urban systems, processing and neighbourhood designs. It goes
beyond just emulating natural form, involving systems’ thinking
and asking: how does it fit into the wider ecosystem? Nature
has 3.8 billion years of R&D behind it, which we can learn
from. Learning from nature also means that the principles of a
Circular Economy have become part of this learning process.
The Ellen McArthur Foundation (EMF) argues that ‘a circular
economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design’
(Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). Part of the circular
economy includes designing out waste and rebuilding natural
capital and resilience. In order to support this, the EMF has
published a series of key texts on the circular economy that are
freely available online.
What does this all mean for the urban regeneration of our
cities? How can we create public spaces, infrastructure, buildings,
neighbourhoods and products without destroying nature and the
Figure 3. Left: There are numerous ways greenery and vegetation can be integrated in buildings, for instance, such as this
hanging garden in Singapore. Right: Green space and the urban are no contradiction, but can co-exist side by side, as here in Rotterdam
(photos: S. Lehmann, 2010)
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There is significant potential for a new technological era inspired
by nature. There is enough solar energy every day to power all
of our cities (Afanador et al., 2015; Weissman et al., 2018). We
can improve the cooling of buildings by looking at the natural
world for solutions, for instance we can harness the process of
photosynthesis. Solar power, CO2 and water create – in the proc-
ess of photosynthesis – energy and oxygen. This is relevant,
as we have to ask: could we pull CO2 out of the atmosphere in
this way, for example by planting more urban forests in all cit-
ies? All regenerative city thinking is also relevant for human
health, by providing clean air, clean water, and vibrant local
foods from the natural environment around us (UN-Habitat, 2016;
Woo et al., 2014). Instead, it is tragic what is happening to our
forests and oceans. For instance, it is well documented that plastic
waste leads to toxins entering our bodies through the food chain
(Murphy et al., 2017; Wright & Kelly, 2017).
There is also increasing evidence of the health benefits from
re-greening our cities: for instance, a faster healing proc-
ess from illness (Grinde & Patil, 2009). If we have hospitals
with a window view into a garden, this enables faster recov-
ery from surgery. It relates to the concept of ‘Biophilia’,
nature’s restorative, regenerative capacity. This includes
the benefits for children of being in nature on a daily basis.
(Kellert, 2011; Wilson, 1984). The ‘Biophilia hypothesis’ has first
been introduced by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, suggesting that
‘humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with
nature and other forms of life’. Biophilia explores the various ways
of greening and re-naturing cities to strengthen the calming and
cooling effect of nature, and the improvement of air quality and
This is timely, as a recent survey (BBC News, 2018, reporting
on a WHO study) has revealed that 47 UK towns and cities
exceed air pollution limits and have an unhealthy environment to
live in. The WHO study found that 30 areas in the UK had fine-
particle air pollution levels in excess of 10 micrograms per
cubic metre; a further 17 cities had fine-particle air pollu-
tion levels that were on this limit. Areas that exceeded the level
included London, Manchester, Swansea, Leeds, Leicester,
Liverpool, Nottingham, Plymouth and Sheffield (beside others).
Fine-particle air pollution is particularly dangerous for human
health as it penetrates deep into the lungs and cardiovascular
system, in doing so contributing directly to diseases including
stroke, heart disease,lung cancer and respiratory problems. But
if the outside air has become so polluted, the ‘open the window’
cooling option is less viable and resolution is sought from
air-conditioning systems, this creates further energy needs,
generating more heat, emissions and pollution.
In today’s fast-paced, over-loaded and distracting built environ-
ment, places of refuge, escape and relaxation are much needed
within the city (with easy access) to separate ourselves from the
external world. Children are masters in identifying and enjoy-
ing such ‘secret places’, and in finding joyous moments in
pocket spaces and intimate gardens, but must be given the oppor-
tunity to spend time outdoors and to appreciate nature as they
encounter it, without preconceptions or prejudice (Hand et al.,
2017; Rautio et al., 2017).
In the urban regeneration process, ideally we want to increase
the density of cities and increase access to urban green space.
Increasing the amount of urban greenery and facilitating access
to urban green space while at the same time increasing urban
density is not a contradiction, but a smart strategy that is feasi-
ble, as currently demonstrated by a number of large regeneration
projects, from Barcelona to Singapore. Malmo in Sweden has
positively branded itself as the ‘City of Parks’, and Singapore
calls itself the ‘City in a Garden’. Of course regeneration must
be done sensitively, both for the environment and the local com-
munity. The New York High Line development has attracted much
praise and attention, but has also drawn criticism for its failure
to address existing social problems and for its gentrifying effect
on the local area (Lang & Rothenberg, 2017; Littke et al., 2016).
Biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation – what
can urban planners and landscape designers do?
Our cities are facing a wide range of challenges, with unsustain-
able urbanisation (frequently at too low density) in turn being
linked to human health problems, the degradation and loss of
natural capital and its corresponding ecosystem services (clean
air, soil and water), climate change and a worrying increase in the
risk of natural disasters. Urban expansion is leading to changes
in the countryside, shifting green space to ‘artificial surfaces’.
An aerial survey of the UK in 2015 revealed that over 22,000 hec-
tares of green space was converted to artificial surfaces between
2006 and 2012. Over 7,000 hectares of this were previously for-
est, and over 14,000 hectares were previously agricultural areas
and farmland. Over 1,000 hectares were changed from wet-
lands to artificial surfaces in order to provide more space for
households. Completion of urban construction sites comprised
nearly 3,000 hectares and completed new industrial and com-
mercial developments slightly over 1,000 hectares (University of
Leicester, 2015).
More research is needed to clearly define the factors in our cur-
rent urbanisation models that hinder the reconnection with nature
in the urban system. These factors are partially economic, social,
technical and environmental. Governments are increasingly
trying to quickly fix the issue of housing affordability by boost-
ing supply and approving inacceptable housing developments
on precious greenfield land. However, far too many homes are
being planned and built on greenfield sites that were formerly
protected green-belt land. There are sufficient brownfield sites
for an extra million homes in England alone, and there is no
excuse for further encroaching into precious greenfield land that
is necessary for recreation, biodiversity, forestry and food supply
(CPRE, 2018). The redevelopment of brownfield land and infill
densification is still not prioritised enough by the government,
developers and policy makers.
Obviously trees and their canopies are a critical piece of the life
support system on this planet and are vital for any future project.
Urban forest projects, constructed wetlands and the urban farm-
ing movement are all good ways to re-integrate nature into an
urban setting (see: Figure 4). Natural elements such as street
trees, gardens and planting have been a feature of cities for
hundreds of years. The most effective urban green space is not a
lawn, but a garden with tree coverage from different types of trees
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and bushes. As far back as his 1722 book (Fairchild, 1722), ‘The
City Gardener’, the English botanist Thomas Fairchild (1667–
1729) noted that city residents feel more relaxed and healthy when
they can enjoy gardens and greenery. He suggested to improve air
pollution and improve the urban micro-climate in London by
creating parks and gardens, and he also realised that numerous
small gardens with trees and bushes are more effective rather
than just a large park with a lawn. Almost three hundred years
later, the research on the urban heat island (UHI) effect
confirms Fairchild’s observation (Bowler et al., 2010; Doick
et al., 2014).
The dangerous UHI effect leads to significantly warmer urban
areas compared to surrounding rural areas, and this temperature
difference is usually larger at night than during the day. The UHI
effect occurs because the dense, dark surfaces (such as bitumen
on roads and concrete on building roofs) absorb and store
heat during the day and then release it at night. Urban greenery
can help reduce this heat gain and the impact on human health
(Lehmann, 2015; Sailor, 2014). The main cause of the UHI effect
is from the modification of land surfaces and material, for instance
concrete roofs that store and trap solar heat during the day. It can
best be counteracted by green roofs (and facades) with planting
and vegetation, white or light-coloured surfaces (using the albedo
effect to reflect solar radiation) and the use of materials that absorb
less heat (Note: from 2012 to 2014, the author was principal
investigator of ‘Urban Climate Research’, the largest study of the
UHI effect in Australian cities). It is only a question of time until
green roofs will become mandatory for new buildings in the UK.
Understanding the many benefits of urban greening, munici-
palities are now looking at how urban areas can adapt their
landscapes to better cope with increasing heat stress and the UHI
effect. There is growing understanding and appreciation that re-
naturing cities can help provide viable solutions for urban
engineering, using and exploiting the properties of natural eco-
systems and the services that they provide. Ecosystem services
that city vegetation delivers, through avenues, gardens, parks,
wetlands, urban forests, green roofs and living walls are much
celebrated. These ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS) can provide
practical, sustainable, cost-effective and adaptive alternatives for
various urban planning objectives; by working with nature,
rather than against it, it is possible to take further steps towards
a more competitive, resource efficient and greener economy
(often termed ‘green growth’). It can also help to enhance natural
capital rather than depleting it.
The term ‘nature-based solutions’ refers to the use of nature for
tackling environmental and societal challenges while increasing
biodiversity. A definition offered by the European Union Com-
mission, who has been funding some of our research in NBS,
states that these solutions ‘inspired and supported by nature,
which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental,
social and economic benefits and help build resilience (…)
and bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features
and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through
locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions’
(EU-Commission, 2015 and EU-Commission, 2017).
For instance, green roofs or walls can be used to reduce the
impact of high temperatures, collect storm water, reduce
pollution and fine dust, and act as carbon sinks, all whilst simul-
taneously enhancing biodiversity. Similarly, the collection and
storage of rain water in constructed wetlands, or the protection of
Figure 4. A tree knows no waste, but provides a large range of ecosystem services (image: S. Lehmann, 2010).
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mangrove forests along coastlines utilise a nature-based solution
to achieve several objectives, including disaster risk reduction.
Urban flood control is regulated in a natural way, with mangroves
alleviating the impact of wind and waves on coastal settlements
or cities whilst also capturing CO2. Additionally, the mangrove
forests can provide safe nurseries for marine life and help
control coastal erosion resulting from a rise in sea-levels,
mitigating potentially harmful effects on the environment and on
human health and society (Kabisch et al., 2016; Lennon & Scott,
2014; Maes & Jacobs, 2017).
New urban design concepts should form a model for incorporat-
ing and re-introducing greenery and biodiversity into the urban
built environment. Maintaining biodiversity in the face of urbani-
sation, habitat loss, environmental deterioration and climate
change is one of the most extreme challenges of the present day.
The inclusion of trees, shrubs and other plant matter into green
spaces and gardens within the city is of paramount importance
in helping to keep the urban landscape cool, mitigating against
buildings and pavements which increase heat absorption and
heat storage, causing the UHI effect.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the role of green
canopies in urban life, with the result that tree coverage
differs widely between cities (Pauleit et al., 2005; Schwarz et al.,
2015). One of these, the 2018 MIT Senseable City Lab study,
established the Green View Index (GVI) that represents the
total percentage of a city covered by trees. The study found that
Paris has a very high population density but only a GVI of 8.7
percent, compared to London (12.7 percent), Amsterdam (20.6) or
Oslo (28.8 percent) (MIT Senseable City Lab, 2018).
The urban neighbourhoods of the future will have to offer new
forms of green space. These will serve a dual purpose, exist-
ing both as areas for recreation whilst acting at the same time to
mitigate the warmer urban microclimate. Tomorrow’s neighbour-
hoods will also need to generate at least 50% of their own power
themselves (Lehmann, 2015). Integrated development which
concentrates on energy and water management, green infra-
structure and the urban microclimate will take a leading role in
urban regeneration. A good example for this trend is Barangaroo
waterfront development at East Darling Harbour in Sydney,
Australia’s largest urban renewal project. Here all of the
roofscapes are green roofs, which provide rainwater storage and
contribute to a reduction in the UHI. Open public space forms
40% of the site, which is already setting new standards for
the renewal of Australian inner-city precincts. Similar to
HafenCity in Hamburg, the developers use landscaping to deal with
flood protection (see: Figure 5 and Figure 6).
Measuring the value of nature: Natural Capital
‘Natural capital’ is the world’s stock of natural resources, includ-
ing soil, rocks and minerals, air, water and all living things.
Humans are able to derive a wide range of ‘ecosystem services’
from this stock of natural capital, indeed these services are what
makes life possible, and include water supply, food and biomass
supply, clean air supply, energy supply, carbon storage and
sequestration, flood control, natural medicines, and so on.
There are also several less visible ecosystem services includ-
ing climate regulation, the pollination of crops by insects, and
natural flood defences provided by mangrove forests, not to
mention the inspiration and well-being we take from the natural
environment (Hawken et al., 1999) (see: Figure 7).
The World Forum on Natural Capital explains why our natural
capital debt is an issue: “With natural capital, when we draw
down too much stock from our natural environment we also run
up a debt which needs to be paid back, for example by replant-
ing clear-cut forests, or allowing aquifers to replenish them-
selves after we have abstracted water. If we keep drawing down
stocks of natural capital without allowing or encouraging nature
to recover, we run the risk of local, regional or even global
ecosystem collapse” (The World Forum on Natural Capital, 2018).
Understandably, all of these essential services cannot be
valueless or priceless, but also have a significant value in mon-
etary, financial terms. For example, a recent report calculated
that by providing atmospheric regulation and flood prevention,
California’s street trees provide over US$1 billion per year in
ecosystem services, and by offering services as diverse as storm
protection, fisheries support and ecotourism, Mexico’s mangrove
forests contribute an annual US$70 billion to the economy (Rizvi
et al., 2015; TEEB for Business Coalition, 2013). The study cal-
culated for the first time the financial risk in real monetary terms
of unpriced natural capital inputs to production across differ-
ent sectors on a regional scale. By using an environmentally
extended input-output model (EEIO), it also estimated, holistically
and at a high level, how these may flow through global
supply chains to producers of consumer goods. Interestingly,
the study demonstrated that some business activities do not
generate sufficient profit to cover their natural resource use and
pollution costs (e.g. coal mining activities continuously ignore
indirect costs to health) (Shanahan et al., 2015).
There is a real economy from natural capital that we are not
discovering, or accounting for. We are getting the benefits but
not recording the value. However, if natural capital were be lost
we would feel it immediately, not least in economic terms. An
accurate cost-benefit analysis is needed to find out what is
the real cost is of not doing the things we need to do for
sustainability? Investment can then be made wisely.
Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces is a study published in 2018
conducted in line with HM Treasury’s best practice in valuing
non-market goods. It measures the contribution of parks and green
spaces in UK cities towards individual wellbeing, both in finan-
cial and social terms. It provides a robust economic valuation
of parks and green spaces in the UK, quantifying the improve-
ments in health and wellbeing associated with their frequent use.
It is the first study on parks and green spaces to apply a welfare
weighting methodology, allowing for more informed evidence-
based policy decisions. The study by UK charity Fields in Trust
estimates that the country’s parks and green spaces save the
UK Government more than £111 million (US$200 million)
in visits to the doctor each year (Fields in Trust, 2018).
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Figure 7. Eco-system services include numerous essential services provided by nature, such as water management and supply,
biodiversity, food and biomass, clean air supply and humidity control, energy, carbon storage and sequestration, and flood control
(image: S. Lehmann, 2016).
Figure 5. Barangaroo in Sydney is Australia’s largest urban regeneration project (image: courtesy of Lendlease).
Figure 6. Vegetation and greenery keeps city temperatures cooler during summer, reducing the urban heat island effect. Left: Special
cameras reveal urban heat islands. Right: The informal green spaces of university campuses contribute positively to the city (Images, urban
heat island effect and campus in Munich: courtesy S. Lehmann).
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At the individual level, the study found that the Total Economic
Value of using parks and green spaces breaks down annually
to £30.24 of benefits per person. In addition, the wellbeing
value associated with the frequent use of local parks and green
spaces is estimated to be worth an incredible £34.2 billion
(US$62.23 billion) per year to the UK adult population as a whole
(see the research here: These
findings are compelling figures to consider when discussing
the business case for governments and stakeholders investing in
more urban green spaces.
Giving ‘ecosystem services’ a monetary value allows for new
measures of progress, which are not measured by simplistic GDP
growth or other common economic measures. Based on these
concepts, ‘environmental justice’ has emerged as a new term,
meaning a focus on the fair distribution of the environmental ben-
efits and burdens, increasingly informing environmental policy.
Ideally, every person on the globe should ‘enjoy the same equal
access to a healthy environment in which to live, learn and
work’ (U.S. EPA, 2012; in this context, also refer to the SITES
rating system managed by GBCI).
We need more greenery and gardens in our cities, green roofs
(planted areas combined with white-coloured roofscapes) and
water features, like ponds and small lakes. Merging nature with
the urban, the Urban Manifesto (Lehmann, 2019) proposes an
ecological network with a value system based on an economy of
prosperity (not turnover) that also values our natural capital, so
we can be citizens, not just merely consumers. It is essential that
every urban regeneration project comes with new public green
space, small gardens and parks in a wide range of sizes. There
are, of course, very different conceptions of what an urban park
might be. For instance, Hyde Park in London has been open
to the public since 1635 and demonstrates the value of a large
(240 hectare in size) park in the city. Frederick Law Olmsted
who designed New York’s Central Park in the 1860s, conceived it
as a large urban park (340 hectare in size) and a place to escape
from the city, as a place in contrast to the surrounding city.
Olmsted was committed to egalitarian ideals and was of the
belief that common green space should be equally accessible to
all citizens at all times, and defended against private intrusion.
This is now a fundamental principle behind the idea of a ‘pub-
lic park’, but was it was previously not assumed to be necessary.
Over a hundred years later, Bernard Tschumi, who designed
Parc de la Villette in Paris (1982), viewed the park as a continu-
ation of the city, with irregular non-hierarchical pathways that
lead to nowhere in particular. Another example is the High Line
Park, an elevated linear park in Manhattan (2009) designed
by James Corner Field Operations. Today, a public park for
the 21st century is seen as a vital space for cooling cities,
cross-cultural neighbourhood contact and social encounters, and
as a spatial connector in an increasingly digital and segregated
Lessons learnt: Knowing where to begin
Every city is unique. Cities not only differ in their size, den-
sity and population distribution, but also in their location and in
the ways in which they are vulnerable to climate change. When
it comes to strategies to increase resilience, what works in
one city may not work in another. Urban regeneration projects
allow to ‘repair’ and restore some of the damage caused to
ecosystems whilst enhancing urban resilience. Even when change
is acknowledged as necessary, it can be a daunting prospect.
Facing the need for change on a large scale it can be helpful to
remember that cities are never finished; cities are constantly
undergoing transformation. What is needed now is to nudge
that transformation in the direction of sustainable and resilient
solutions, making the most of opportunities for re-greening, using
resources efficiently and acknowledging the value of natural
A good example for such a project is the international research
project the author is currently working on: Crunch the Food-
Water-Energy Nexus explores these issues in greater depth
using integrated methods (see:
It may require a paradigm shift in thinking. By beginning to
place a value on natural capital, and assessing our vital systems
as a whole and not as separate parts, we can begin to make effi-
ciency savings that previously would not have been apparent. In
doing so, we not only benefit financially through saving valuable
resources and mitigating against environmental risks resulting from
climate change, but also contribute towards the repair and renewal
of our ecosystem, conserving resources that are finite and helping
to prevent further global temperature rise (Lehmann, 2017).
Getting approval for change is not always easy. However, the
sooner we can begin to transform our cities into greener, more
efficient, climate resilient places to live, the sooner we begin to
mitigate against the problems which require this transformation in
the first place. By acting quickly we can work to prevent the Earth
entering into a ‘hothouse’ state, beyond which human efforts
to reduce emissions will be increasingly impossible. This, if
nothing else, should provide the impetus necessary to take the
first brave steps towards change.
Data availability
No data is associated with this article.
Grant information
The author declares that the following grant supported this work:
‘CRUNCH – Operationalising the Food-Water-Energy Nexus’,
grant funded by the Economic and Social Research Council,
ESRC (UK), grant reference: ES/S002294/1
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and
analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
This article was supported by the Urban Futures Lab at the
School of Architecture, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, USA;
see: The author is also grateful
for the assistance by Claire Coulter.
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... For these reasons, strong relationships must be established between the shape of cities and climate change adaptation strategies (Gerundo, 2018). By restoring nature to the city, proposing NBSs and permeable materials, there is an overall improvement in soil ecosystem services, as they help cool city temperatures, better manage water drainage, increase biodiversity, improve air quality and generate well-being (Dessì et al., 2016;Lehmann, 2019;Cortinovis et al., 2022). Urban regeneration, in addition to limiting soil consumption by recovering obsolete and/or degraded urban fabric, can also activate soil de-sealing interventions, i.e., the removal of the surface impermeable layer, to increase the permeability of soils, their ecological performance and their capacity to provide ecosystem services (Science for Environment Policy, 2016; Maienza et al., 2021;Garda, 2022). ...
Full-text available
It is well known that extreme heat waves or weather events combined with the increased soil consumption and sealing processes are significantly affecting urban systems especially the most exposed and vulnerable. These urban challenges call for specific mitigation and adaptation actions; soil de-sealing (i.e., the removal of the impermeable surfaces for increasing green areas and restoring soil ecosystem functions) may be one of the possible solutions. However, this urban practice, to have meaningful outcomes, would need widespread and systematic application in urban areas that can be pursued only if supported by innovative programming and planning tools based on the construction of in-depth knowledge frameworks on the permeability and vulnerability of urban soils. In this regard, the paper aims to outline a methodological approach, supported by GIS technology, to map in detail urban public soils and identify priority areas to be de-paved. In particular, the method assesses the permeability of public land in relation to hydraulic and heat island hazard exposure of potentially vulnerable urban systems. The methodological approach is applied to a pilot case in the city of Parma to test its potential and limitations, with the goal of creating a replicable procedure.
... Learning from nature has become increasingly recognised as a key driver in sustaining the surrounding man environment relation (Walker & Salt, 2012). Those who regularly visit green areas, or perceive a connection to nature, are generally increasingly inclined to act in directions that support environmental health, including recycling and conservation (Ives et al., 2018;Lehmann, 2019). Moreover, economically attractive NTFP of the local people help to reduce the deforestation and thus address conservation objectives. ...
Full-text available
As it is known that “reconnecting to nature” is essential for sustainability, there are few studies on why reconnecting humans to nature is essential and how it can be accomplished. This study is aimed at finding innovative, yet sustainable ways to reconnect people with nature. The objective of the paper is to enhance the biodiversity knowledge of local residents through conservation of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). In the study, urban respondents’ knowledge about biodiversity with particular reference to non-timber forest products (NTFPs) was analysed for the first time. To achieve the objective of this study, participatory appraisal, one-on-one interviews, dual moderator focus groups, ethnographic field research, and semi-structured questionnaire were used. Plant name boards with local names and their NTFP values for the selected species were also installed. Results suggest that NTFP-producing species played a vital role in making people interested in biodiversity. It can be considered as one of the innovative ways to improve surrounding biodiversity, for further enhancing biodiversity knowledge, based on archival study and local community’s knowledge about NTFP producing species, NTFPs plantation also done across the study area like parks, roadside, open space. This paper also explored how this study could contribute to the formulation of policies in terms of creating various urban green covers in Indian cities, following the strategies of joint forest management, social forestry, and agroforestry.
... Today, cities can possess degrading conditions-just think of windowless work environments, over-crowded housing, air pollution, noise, and the lack of any street trees (Lehmann, 2020;2019a). Cities are not obvious places to reconnect with the natural environment. ...
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How are our cities confronting the challenges posed by a warming climate, the loss of biodiversity and major resource depletion? ―This article discusses the opportunities and benefits of applying the concepts of renaturalisiation and rewilding of cities. It introduces Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in urban planning that are integrated with the aim to enhance urban resilience and to slow down the biodiversity decline, which can be applied in two areas: through the conception of new green neighbourhoods; and through the regeneration and re-greening of existing but neglected parts of the city, such as postindustrial brownfields or economically weak districts. Contact to nature is essential for human existence, urban wellbeing and a good quality of life. Green spaces in cities –big or small– all contribute to health and wellbeing. However, many cities, including in the U.S. and in Europe, do not offer residents easy access to green space within the city. Improving better access to green spaces and extending gardens and parks will deliver a large number of benefits, such as ecosystem services, better water management for enhanced urban flood control, slowing down the biodiversity loss, contributing to food security, with the potential to restore damaged ecosystems. Furthermore, additional green space and NBS help to keep cities cool during heatwaves and improve the urban microclimate. As most of our cities keep growing and warming, the scale of the issue is significant. For example, in 2020, cities in the European Union were home to over 70 percent of Europe’s population, and this figure is expected to increase to over 80 percent by the middle of the century. This translates to 36 million new urban citizens in Europe by 2050 alone, who will need housing, employment, health care and access to green spaces (EU-Commission, 2018). In this context, nature-based solutions and re-greening can generate significant benefits for citizens, improve urban health and well-being, and offer an opportunity to effectively deploy nature in helping to resolve major societal challenges ―such as social inclusion, food security and disaster risk reduction. However, as the discussion of this article shows, it is essential that the design of NBS is fully integrated with other complementary planning interventions and seeks synergies across all sectors.
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Several research studies have highlighted the benefits of urban green space to urbanites, however, understanding of human-nature interaction through psychological and cognitive attachment of city dwellers to their surrounding green spaces is a new verge of study under place attachment research. In present study, an empirical assessment of resident’s place attachment towards green spaces is conducted in a rapidly growing medium-size town of India. For this, a modified place attachment model consisting eight dimensions namely, green space quality, connectedness to nature, place identity, sense of place, place dependence, well-beingness, social relation and kith–kin relation is taken for statistical analysis to ascertain level of place attachment in relation to attributes. Data were collected through a semi-structured questionnaire survey and personal interview in three neighbourhoods viz. built-up eco space or nearby natural area, busy built-up and urban–rural peripheral areas under Bardhaman Planning Area, India. A mixed-method research technique has been applied for comprehensive study. Narratives are used as qualitative technique while quantitative data are subjected to Exploratory Factor Analysis to examine the underlying place attachments. Confirmatory Factor Analysis has been performed to confer the outcomes of place attachment. Narrative analysis shows the deeper urge for green space in the busy built-up and eloquent expression of mental satisfaction for the eco-space area. Factor loadings of green space quality, connectedness to nature, well-beingness and social relation are markedly high for built-up eco space than the busy built-up areas. Similarly, CFA shows clear distinction of respondents between busy built-up and built-up eco space. Thus, green space in a city can create a different image from conventional city space. Hence, acknowledging human’s urban future, influence of green spaces towards creation of place attachment is by far a necessary synthesis in present day sustainability research.
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Since many cities lack botanical gardens, we introduced the concept of Ancillary Botanic Gardens (ABG), which builds on the premise that organizations can expand informal botanical learning by adding a secondary function to their institutional green spaces. This study guides the application of the ABG concept in various spatial and functional contexts by offering practical and interpretive tools to organizations who are less used to working with nature but are interested in mitigating urban residents’ detachment from nature. Online maps of 220 botanic gardens were reviewed to define types of plant collections and produce an exhaustive list of physical botanic garden elements. The collected information was developed into an ABG field checklist that was tested on three case studies in Lebanon and then used to develop guidelines for ABG establishment. The guidelines and checklist are meant to empower and guide organizations interested in establishing an ABG.
Current predictions highlight major climate-related impacts on coastal cities around the world. At the same time, wetlands provide important services and habitats for both natural and anthropogenic activities and could play an important role in mitigating these impacts in coastal areas. However, due to the increasing population and associated urban growth, endemic coastal wetlands are still being reclaimed for urban development. Approaches balancing urban and wetland functions and needs could, therefore, play a key role in the future sustainable development of both the urban and natural environments. Based on a systematic literature review, this chapter maps urban-wetland interactions by combining key principles derived from state-of-the-art theoretical descriptions of urban-ecosystem relationships in urban design with site-specific wetland functions and design strategies. State-of-the-art theoretical urban frameworks that define sustainable urban-ecological relationships are used to identify key underlying principles which are further compared to assess overlaps and differences. To connect theoretical principles to practical context-dependant functions and design strategies, coastal wetland functions are analysed and categorized in relation to the identified theoretical framework characteristics. Theoretical principles and practical design strategies are then combined using a visual system thinking concept map, to provide a map of urban-wetland systems and relationships.KeywordsIntegrated urban-wetland relationshipsSystem thinkingCoastal wetlandSustainable urban design frameworks
Conference Paper
İklim değişikliği, yaşamımızı etkileyen ve önlemler almamızı gerektiren bir problem olarak, azaltım ve uyum faaliyetlerinin bir arada düşünülmesini gerektirmektedir. Bu kapsamda insanın doğa ile bağlantısına dayalı olan biyofili teorisinin kentteki yansıması olarak biyofilik şehircilik yaklaşımı önem taşımaktadır. Bu yaklaşım, farklı ölçeklerde kullanılan doğa tabanlı çözümlere dayalı olarak sürdürülebilir, yaşanabilir ve dayanıklı bir şehir oluşturmada etkilidir. Biyofilik şehircilik; sürdürülebilir kentler oluşturma hedefinde temel bir unsur olarak, insan ve doğa arasındaki ilişkiyi yeniden kurmayı ve doğayı insanın yaşam ortamına getirerek ilişkinin kalitesini iyileştirmeyi amaçlamaktadır. Biyofilik şehircilik yaklaşımının, kentsel ısı adası etkisini azaltma, karbon tutma, hava ve su kalitesini artırma, taşkın kontrolü ve biyolojik çeşitlilik koruma gibi ekolojik faydaları bulunmaktadır. Bunun yanı sıra fiziksel ve ruhsal sağlığı iyileştirme, biyoklimatik konfor sağlama ve ekonomik açıdan katkı sunma konularında da ön plana çıkmaktadır. Aynı zamanda bu yaklaşım biyofilik ögeleri kullanarak, doğa temelli kentsel çevreler yaratma araçları sağlamaktadır. Biyofilik şehircilik yaklaşımı kapsamındaki bu biyofilik ögeler ile farklı ölçeklerde uygulanan ekolojik çözümler iklim değişikliğine karşı azaltım ve uyum açısından etkili olmaktadır. Çalışmada biyofili kavramını kentsel planlama ve tasarımlara yansıtmayı hedefleyen biyofilik şehircilik yaklaşımı, iklim değişikliğine karşı azaltım ve uyum stratejisi olarak ele alınmıştır. Bu kapsamda biyofilik ögelerin iklim açısından sunduğu olumlu katkılar ekolojik, ekonomik ve sosyal işlevler açısından kentsel uygulamalar kapsamında değerlendirilerek önemleri vurgulanmıştır.
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More-than-human-centred design is a growing field in HCI (human-computer interaction) that account for non-human actors in design processes (such as animals, plants, and microbes but also autonomous technologies). While the rationale for more-than-human-centred design is clear, there is a lack of design methods grounded in this thinking. We articulate the idea of noticing as a method for approaching design spaces as systems of mutual interdependence between organisms. The findings are based on a longitudinal ethnographic study of urban farming—including the study of urban farmers’ practices and use of technologies with a focus on the interplay between humans and non-humans, such as plants and microbes. We articulate noticing as a phenomenon and show examples of urban farmers’ practices of noticing. We discuss principles for designing with the interdependencies of several organisms based on what is noticed in a setting. We argue that the way we have separated ideas about the environment and human experience is a part of the sustainability problem—and suggest noticing as an approach that instead combines positive human experiences and the needs of the environment.
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Microplastics are a pollutant of environmental concern. Their presence in food destined for human consumption and in air samples has been reported. Thus, microplastic exposure via diet or inhalation could occur, the human health effects of which are unknown. The current review article draws upon cross-disciplinary scientific literature to discuss and evaluate the potential human health impacts of microplastics and outlines urgent areas for future research. Key literature up to September 2016 relating to bioaccumulation, particle toxicity, and chemical and microbial contaminants were critically examined. Whilst this is an emerging field, complimentary existing fields indicate potential particle, chemical and microbial hazards. If inhaled or ingested, microplastics may bioaccumulate and exert localised particle toxicity by inducing or enhancing an immune response. Chemical toxicity could occur due to the localised leaching of component monomers, endogenous additives, and adsorbed environmental pollutants. Chronic exposure is anticipated to be of greater concern due to the accumulative effect which could occur. This is expected to be dose-dependent, and a robust evidence-base of exposure levels is currently lacking. Whilst there is potential for microplastics to impact human health, assessing current exposure levels and burdens is key. This information will guide future research into the potential mechanisms of toxicity and hence therein possible health effects.
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Significance Nature exposure is an important determinant of human mental and physical well-being, but rapid urbanization means that accessing natural areas is increasingly challenging. Children in particular are thought to show a deep affective affiliation with life (biophilia), and health disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, stress, obesity, and depression, are attributed to lack of interaction with wild nature, termed “nature-deficit disorder.” We tested biophilia in children by quantitatively evaluating the availability and use of biodiverse spaces, and found no evidence of preference for biodiverse or wild areas, even where children had access to highly biodiverse areas. Because of constrained movements, children’s exposure to nature occurred mostly in private gardens, which are disappearing with densification and ongoing loss of private greenspace.
"This book provides nothing short of a new blueprint for urban regeneration that responds to the pressing issues of today. Visionary and practical, it identifies key strategies for cities to realise their economic, social and environmental potential and unlock new forms of living for the many not the few." -- Professor James Evans, University of Manchester Urban Regeneration — A Manifesto for transforming UK Cities in the Age of Climate Change explores and offers guidance on the complex process of how to transform cities, continuing the unfinished project of the seminal 1999 text Towards an Urban Renaissance. It is a 21st-century manifesto of urban principles compiled by a prominent urbanist, for the regeneration of UK cities, focusing on the characteristics of a ‘good place’ and the strategies of sustainable urbanism. It asks readers to consider how we can best transform the derelict, abandoned and run-down parts of cities back into places where people want to live, work and play. The book frames an architecture of re-use that translates and combines the complex ‘science of cities’ and the art of urban and architectural design into actionable and practical guidance on how to regenerate cities. Fascinated by the typology and value of the compact UK and European city model, Lehmann introduces the concept of ‘high density without high buildings’ as a solution that will make our cities compact, walkable, mixed-use and vibrant again. Steffen Lehmann, PhD, AA Dip, is a tenured Professor of Architecture and Director of the School of Architecture at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, USA. Previously he was Professor of Sustainable Architecture at the University of Portsmouth, UK, where he was also Founding Director of the Cluster for Sustainable Cities. Over the last 30 years, he has lived and worked in different cities around the globe, in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia.
"An important, controversial account ... of the way in which man's use of poisons to control insect pests and unwanted vegetation is changing the balance of nature." Booklist.
This study reports plastic ingestion in various fish found from coastal and offshore sites in Scottish marine waters. Coastal samples consisted of three demersal flatfish species (n = 128) collected from the East and West coasts of Scotland. Offshore samples consisted of 5 pelagic species and 4 demersal species (n = 84) collected from the Northeast Atlantic. From the coastal fish sampled, 47.7% of the gastrointestinal tracts contained macroplastic and microplastic. Of the 84 pelagic and demersal offshore fish, only 2 (2.4%) individuals from different species had ingested plastic identified as a clear polystyrene fibre and a black polyamide fibre. The average number of plastic items found per fish from all locations that had ingested plastic was 1.8 (± 1.7) with polyamide (65.3%), polyethylene terephthalate (14.4%) and acrylic (14.4%) being the three most commonly found plastics. This study adds to the existing data on macroplastic and microplastic ingestion in fish species.
The worry over urban children having lost their connection to nature is most often addressed with either initiatives of reinserting the ‘child back to nature’ or with evidence aiming to prove that the worry is unfounded to begin with. Neither approach furthers our understanding of child–nature relations as continuing transformation of both ‘child’ (‘human’) and ‘nature’. The objective of this paper is to redirect attention from evaluating connectedness of two separate units to mapping mutual emergence of children and their surroundings in relation to each other. The question asked is: Of what kind is environmental education beyond connectedness of ‘child’ and ‘nature’? The aligned theoretical approach, (critical) posthumanism, will help us to elaborate a premise for environmental education according to which humans and their nonhuman surroundings do not exist as independent of each other. The empirically grounded events discussed in this paper are named ‘shitgulls’ and ‘shops’. These events map mutual emergence of child and nature, evidencing the need for environmental education to understand itself as a relational phenomenon.
In post-industrial cities throughout the world abandoned railroads, demolished freeways, disused canals, and other derelict industrial ruins are being transformed into ecologically inspired and aesthetically designed leisure, consumption, and tourist spaces based upon the principles of Landscape Urbanism and ideas about sustainable park design. New York City’s High Line is one example of this growing trend. Sustainable parks like the High Line claim to provide economic, ecological, and equity benefits associated with the 3 Es of sustainability. Our research on the development of New York City’s High Line suggests that while the High Line meets the economic piece of the sustainability triad with its promise of generating growth, its success in terms of the ecological dimension of sustainability is unclear. More troubling is the High Line’s neglect of the social equity component of the discourse of sustainability. Our work brings together several key arguments in the critical literature on urban sustainability to examine how structural constraints associated with creating post-industrial ecological spaces in a climate of neoliberal urbanization play out in the paradigmatic case of the High Line.