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Open AccessArticle

Urban Foraging: A Ubiquitous Human Practice Overlooked by Urban Planners, Policy, and Research

Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
Department of Environmental Studies, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA 19426, USA
Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station, South Burlington, VT 05405, USA
School of Development, Azim Premji University, PES Institute of Technology Campus, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560100, India
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1884;
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 9 October 2017 / Accepted: 15 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
Although hardly noticed or formally recognised, urban foraging by humans probably occurs in all urban settings around the world. We draw from research in India, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States to demonstrate the ubiquity and varied nature of urban foraging in different contexts. Across these different contexts, we distil seven themes that characterise and thereby advance thinking about research and the understanding of urban foraging. We show that it is widespread and occurs across a variety of urban spaces and places. The species used and the local practices vary between contexts, and are in constant flux as urban ecological and social settings change. This requires that urban foragers are knowledgeable about diverse species, harvest locations, and rights of access, and that their practices are adaptable to changing contexts. Despite its ubiquity, most cities have some forms of regulations that prohibit or discourage urban foraging. We highlight a few important exceptions that can provide prototypes and lessons for other cities regarding supportive policy frameworks and initiatives. The formulation of dynamic policy, design, and management strategies in support of urban foraging will benefit from understanding the common characteristics of foraging in cities worldwide, but also will require comprehension of the specific and dynamic contexts in which they would be implemented. View Full-Text
Keywords: actors; benefits; dynamics; tenure; urban foraging; urban spaces actors; benefits; dynamics; tenure; urban foraging; urban spaces
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Shackleton, C.M.; Hurley, P.T.; Dahlberg, A.C.; Emery, M.R.; Nagendra, H. Urban Foraging: A Ubiquitous Human Practice Overlooked by Urban Planners, Policy, and Research. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1884.

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