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Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1154-1172; doi:10.3390/su4061154

The New Ecology of Vacancy: Rethinking Land Use in Shrinking Cities

Department of Landscape Architecture, Pennsylvania State University, 121 Stuckeman Family Building, University Park, PA 16823, USA
Received: 15 February 2012 / Revised: 17 May 2012 / Accepted: 18 May 2012 / Published: 5 June 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Sustainability)
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Abstract

Urban environments are in continual transition. Yet, as many cities continue to grow and develop in ways deemed typical or standard, these transitions can be difficult to acknowledge. Narratives of continued growth and permanence become accepted and expected while the understanding of urban dynamics becomes lost. In many parts of the world, the shrinking cities phenomenon has given rise to a new awareness of urban transition that provides a laboratory of new conditions at the intersection of urbanism and ecology. With property vacancy rates easily exceeding 50% in certain locations, cities in the American Rust Belt look more like successional woodlands than bustling metropolises, yet these cities still contain significant numbers of urban residents. A central question that arises from this phenomenon is: how can vacant land, through the provision of ecosystem services, become a resource as opposed to a liability? This paper looks to recent studies in urban ecology as a lens for understanding the land use potential of shrinking cities, while discussing unconventional solutions for sustainable development of urban land. View Full-Text
Keywords: shrinking cities; urban ecology; urban landscape; vacancy; off-lining; sustainable urban planning; ecosystem services shrinking cities; urban ecology; urban landscape; vacancy; off-lining; sustainable urban planning; ecosystem services
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Burkholder, S. The New Ecology of Vacancy: Rethinking Land Use in Shrinking Cities. Sustainability 2012, 4, 1154-1172.

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