Frontiers in urban ecological design and planning research


Four urban ecological design and planning research areas are identified: (1) application of ecosystem services, (2) adaptation of settlements for natural disasters, (3) ecological renewal of degraded urban places, and (4) ability of people to link knowledge to action to affect positive change. Ecosystem services are the benefits humans derive from nature, which, until relatively recently, were not normally valued by traditional economics or, when acknowledged, were regarded as externalities. Through the identification of economic and cultural benefits of ecosystems, higher standards for landscape performance can be established. As our climate continues to change, the number of natural disasters increases, frequently with catastrophic consequences for human settlements. Designers and planners must learn how to develop adaptive strategies to climate change and mitigation strategies for the consequences that result. Most cities include underused, degraded places that are ripe for creative redevelopment. Urban ecology provides a conceptual framework that recognizes the restorative potential of people. However, although knowledge about our environments abounds, we seem limited in our ability to adopt measures necessary to ensure a healthy planet for future generations. Each research area offers prospects for landscape and urban planning. Both planning perspectives are essential because the population continues to grow and people are increasingly living in urban and suburban places.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Frederick Steiner
Landscape and Urban Planning