Special Issue "Nature-based solutions (NBS) in Cities and Their Interaction with Urban Land, Ecosystems, Built Environment and People: Debating Societal Implications"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Dagmar Haase
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Guest Editor
Lab of Landscape Ecology, Department of Geography, Humboldt University Berlin, Rudower Chaussee 16, 12489 Berlin, Germany
Interests: land-use change modelling; ecosystem services; socio-environmental justice; urban land teleconnections; urban ecology; GIS and remote sensing
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Annegret Haase
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental and Urban Sociology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
Interests: sustainable urban development; urban transformations; urban shrinkage and regrowth; socio-spatial and socio-environmental processes in cities; inequality and justice challenges
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Manuel Wolff
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Lab of Landscape Ecology, Department of Geography, Humboldt University Berlin, Rudower Chaussee 16, 12489 Berlin, Germany
Interests: sustainable urbanization; green infrastructure; shrinkage; regrowth; European spatial development
Dr. Diana Dushkova
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Lab of Landscape Ecology, Department of Geography, Humboldt University Berlin, Rudower Chaussee 16, 12489 Berlin, Germany
Interests: urban ecosystem services; nature-based solutions; Russian cities; health
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nature-based solutions are a comparatively new field of research regarding the ‘green city’ and a main focus of large European and Global research programs. Nature-based Solutions (NBS) are defined by IUCN as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified—in our case urban—ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”. NBS have the aim to support the achievement of society’s development goals and human well-being and public health as well as social welfare in ways that reflect the cultural and societal values of the urban societies and enhance the resilience of ecosystems, their capacity for renewal, their diversity, along with the provision of services. NBS are designed to address major societal challenges related to cities, such as safe and clean housing, fresh air, food security, climate change, water supply, human health, and disaster risk. NBS are intended to produce societal benefits in a fair and equitable way, thus promoting transparency and broad participation as well as learning and education.

This Special Issue seeks to provide a state of the art of the functional, empirical, and field study-based experiences and data on NBS provided by green and blue infrastructure (GBI) in cities. We focus on the interaction of the instrument of NBS, its benefits, and tradeoffs with urban land, the built environment in cities, and the urban society, in particular in relation to social wealth and public health, also taking into account stewardship and governance aspects.

We aim at answering questions such as:

  • What type of GBI-based NBS are being implemented in cities across the Globe?
  • Which properties of urban nature and/or urban ecosystems do they make use of, and how do NBS themselves influence urban ecosystems and ecosystem services flows in Cities?
  • What are the trade-offs of NBS with other ecosystem services and urban biodiversity?
  • What are the typical land units and types where NBS are implemented?
  • How do NBS and their implementation interrogate/interact with the social environment and issues of social cohesion and justice?
  • What are land governance and policy schemes for NBS in cities? Do they differ from the prevailing land management and governance policies implemented so far in our cities?
  • How does the implementation of NBS correspond/interact with general directions and priorities of urban development?
  • More specific topics or questions could be added here.

Prof. Dagmar Haase
Dr. Annegret Haase
Dr. Manuel Wolff
Dr. Diana Dushkova
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Nature-Based Solutions
  • cities
  • benefits
  • trade-offs
  • urban land
  • ecosystems
  • built environment
  • urban society

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Editorial for Special Issue “Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in Cities and Their Interactions with Urban Land, Ecosystems, Built Environments and People: Debating Societal Implications”
Land 2021, 10(9), 937; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090937 - 06 Sep 2021
Viewed by 268
Abstract
Today’s cities increasingly serve as the nexus between nature and people in times of strong urban growth and, in some cases, urban decline [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Afforestation of Urban Brownfields as a Nature-Based Solution. Experiences from a Project in Leipzig (Germany)
Land 2021, 10(9), 893; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090893 - 25 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 375
Abstract
In Leipzig, despite strong growth, reurbanization and re-densification, in the last decade it has still been possible for the city to green brownfields with a new type of green space: urban forests. The background to this was of course the city’s decades of [...] Read more.
In Leipzig, despite strong growth, reurbanization and re-densification, in the last decade it has still been possible for the city to green brownfields with a new type of green space: urban forests. The background to this was of course the city’s decades of shrinkage and the emergence of numerous brownfields. The city of Leipzig started urban redevelopment in 2001 and pursued the strategy “more green, less density” in its planning. This included the creation of traditional and new green spaces as well as temporary uses. New green space concepts were also experimented with, including pocket forests and urban forests on larger, inner-city brownfields. This pursued several objectives: the forest was meant to contribute to improving the urban climatic and air-hygienic situation, to enhance the value of adjacent areas, create new recreational opportunities and contribute to increasing biodiversity. Another aspect is also the financing, for instance, the afforestation of brownfields is the cheapest way to create greenery. As a result of almost ten years of interdisciplinary monitoring of the project, it can now be stated that urban forests fulfil the objectives and are accepted and used by the population. Urban forests do not constitute an independent or new type of nature-based solutions they create new ecosystems from existing abandoned, brownfields, or neglected area. Full article
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Article
How Are Urban Green Spaces and Residential Development Related? A Synopsis of Multi-Perspective Analyses for Leipzig, Germany
Land 2021, 10(6), 630; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060630 - 12 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 618
Abstract
The relationship between urban green spaces (UGS) and residential development is complex: UGS have positive and negative immediate impacts on residents’ well-being, residential location choice, housing, and land markets. Property owners and real estate agents might consider how prospective clients perceive UGS and [...] Read more.
The relationship between urban green spaces (UGS) and residential development is complex: UGS have positive and negative immediate impacts on residents’ well-being, residential location choice, housing, and land markets. Property owners and real estate agents might consider how prospective clients perceive UGS and act accordingly, while urban planners influence UGS location and management as well as aim at steering the built environment. Typically, studies focus on one of these perspectives at a time. Here, we provide a synopsis of results from studies, taking different perspectives for a single case study: Leipzig, Germany. We summarise and discuss the findings of eight studies on UGS and residential development. In detail, these studies focus on spatial pattern analysis, hedonic pricing analysis, mixed-methods studies on experts’ perspectives, surveys, and choice experiments exploring residents’ perceptions of UGS. We reflect on the feasibility of deriving a synthesis out of these independent studies and to what extent context matters. We conclude that both triangulating of data and methods, as well as long-term and context-sensitive studies are needed to explain the interlinkages between UGS and residential development and their context dependency. Full article
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Article
Landscape-Based Visions as Powerful Boundary Objects in Spatial Planning: Lessons from Three Dutch Projects
Land 2021, 10(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010016 - 28 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1346
Abstract
In a context of a rapidly changing livability of towns and countryside, climate change and biodiversity decrease, this paper introduces a landscape-based planning approach to regional spatial policy challenges allowing a regime shift towards a future land system resilient to external pressures. The [...] Read more.
In a context of a rapidly changing livability of towns and countryside, climate change and biodiversity decrease, this paper introduces a landscape-based planning approach to regional spatial policy challenges allowing a regime shift towards a future land system resilient to external pressures. The concept of nature-based solutions and transition theory are combined in this approach, in which co-created normative future visions serve as boundary concepts. Rather than as an object in itself, the landscape is considered as a comprehensive principle, to which all spatial processes are inherently related. We illustrate this approach with three projects in the Netherlands in which landscape-based visions were used to guide the land transition, going beyond the traditional nature-based solutions. The projects studied show that a shared long-term future landscape vision is a powerful boundary concept and a crucial source of inspiration for a coherent design approach to solve today’s spatial planning problems. Further, they show that cherishing abiotic differences in the landscape enhances sustainable and resilient landscapes, that co-creation in the social network is a prerequisite for shared solutions, and that a landscape-based approach enhances future-proof land-use transitions to adaptive, circular, and biodiverse landscapes. Full article
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Article
Vegetation Structure, Species Composition, and Carbon Sink Potential of Urban Green Spaces in Nagpur City, India
Land 2020, 9(4), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9040107 - 01 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1378
Abstract
Nagpur is rapidly urbanizing, and in the process witnessing decline in its green status which is one of the identities of the city. The study aims to understand the current species diversity, composition and structure in different classes of greens prevalent in the [...] Read more.
Nagpur is rapidly urbanizing, and in the process witnessing decline in its green status which is one of the identities of the city. The study aims to understand the current species diversity, composition and structure in different classes of greens prevalent in the city. As urban green spaces (UGS) are also reservoirs of carbon stock, the study estimates their biomass. Through rigorous field work, data were collected from 246 sample plots across various UGS classes as pre-stratification. Then the biomass was estimated using non-destructive method with species-specific equation. The diversity of tree species recorded in UGS varies, with high diversity recorded in avenue plantation and institutional compounds. The overall variation in species composition among UGS classes was 36.8%. While in managed greens the species composition was similar, in institutional greens and forest it was different. Particularly, in forest the evenness was high with low diversity and low species richness. The structural distribution indicate lack of old trees in the city, with high number of tree species between diameter classes of 10–40 cm. Biomass was recorded high in road-side plantations (335 t ha−1) and playgrounds (324 t ha−1), and trees with bigger girth size where the main contributors. The dominant species indicates that high growth rate, tolerance to drought and pollution are the key attributes considered for species selection by local authorities. Though the city holds green image, vegetation along the avenues and institutions are stressed, exposed, and threatened by felling activities for grey infrastructure expansions. In such scenario, protection and preservation of older trees is crucial to maintain the carbon stock of the city. In addition, local authorities need to focus on effective afforestation programs through public participation to achieve high survival rate and reduce the maintenance cost. For species selection in addition to phenology and growth rate, tree biomass and life span needs to be considered to significantly enhance the urban environment and increase the benefits derived from UGS. Full article
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Article
Gentrification through Green Regeneration? Analyzing the Interaction between Inner-City Green Space Development and Neighborhood Change in the Context of Regrowth: The Case of Lene-Voigt-Park in Leipzig, Eastern Germany
Land 2020, 9(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010024 - 16 Jan 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2478
Abstract
Green regeneration has become a common strategy for improving quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods in shrinking cities. The role and function of new green spaces may change, however, when cities experience new growth. Set against this context, this paper analyzes a case [...] Read more.
Green regeneration has become a common strategy for improving quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods in shrinking cities. The role and function of new green spaces may change, however, when cities experience new growth. Set against this context, this paper analyzes a case study, the Lene-Voigt-Park in Leipzig, which was established on a former brownfield site. Using a combination of methods which include an analysis of housing advertisements and interviews, the paper explores the changing role of the park in the context of urban regeneration after the city’s turn from shrinkage towards new growth. It discusses whether the concept of green gentrification may help to explain this role. As a result of our analysis, we argue that Lene-Voigt-Park has indeed operated as a trigger for structural, social, and symbolic upgrades in the growing city of Leipzig, but only in combination with real estate market developments, which are the main drivers of change. The concept of green gentrification does help to better understand the role of different factors—first and foremost that of green space. We also discovered some specifics of our case that may enrich the green gentrification debate. Leipzig serves as an example for a number of regrowing cities across Europe where green gentrification might represent a challenge. Full article
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Article
Not Simply Green: Nature-Based Solutions as a Concept and Practical Approach for Sustainability Studies and Planning Agendas in Cities
Land 2020, 9(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010019 - 11 Jan 2020
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 3078
Abstract
The concept of a nature-based solution (NBS) has been developed in order to operationalize an ecosystem services approach within spatial planning policies and practices, to fully integrate the ecological dimension, and, at the same time, to address current societal challenges in cities. It [...] Read more.
The concept of a nature-based solution (NBS) has been developed in order to operationalize an ecosystem services approach within spatial planning policies and practices, to fully integrate the ecological dimension, and, at the same time, to address current societal challenges in cities. It exceeds the bounds of traditional approaches that aim ‘to protect and preserve’ by considering enhancing, restoring, co-creating, and co-designing urban green networks with nature that are characterized by multifunctionality and connectivity. NBSs include the main ideas of green and blue infrastructure, ecosystem services, and biomimicry concepts, and they are considered to be urban design and planning tools for ecologically sensitive urban development. Nowadays, NBSs are on their way to the mainstream as part of both national and international policies. The successful implementation of NBSs in Europe and worldwide, which is becoming increasingly common, highlights the importance and relevance of NBS for sustainable and livable cities. This paper discusses the roles, development processes, and functions of NBSs in cities by taking Leipzig as a case study. Using data from interviews conducted from 2017 to 2019, we study the past and current challenges that the city faces, including the whole process of NBS implementation and successful realization. We discuss the main drivers, governance actors, and design options of NBSs. We highlight the ecosystem services provided by each NBS. We discuss these drivers and governance strategies by applying the framework for assessing the co-benefits of NBSs in urban areas in order to assess the opportunities and challenges that NBSs may have. This way, we are able to identify steps and procedures that help to increase the evidence base for the effectiveness of NBS by providing examples of best practice that demonstrate the multiple co-benefits provided by NBSs. Full article
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Article
Designing a Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) Network: Toward Water-Sensitive Urban Growth Planning in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Land 2019, 8(9), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8090138 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3460
Abstract
In a warming world, urban environmental stresses are exacerbated by population-increase-induced development of grey infrastructure that usually leaves minimal scope for blue (and green) elements and processes, potentially resulting in mismanagement of stormwater and flooding issues. This paper explores how urban growth planning [...] Read more.
In a warming world, urban environmental stresses are exacerbated by population-increase-induced development of grey infrastructure that usually leaves minimal scope for blue (and green) elements and processes, potentially resulting in mismanagement of stormwater and flooding issues. This paper explores how urban growth planning in the megacity of Dhaka, Bangladesh can be guided by a blue-green infrastructure (BGI) network that combines blue, green, and grey elements together to provide a multifunctional urban form. We take a three-step approach: First, we analyze the existing spatial morphology to understand potential locations of development and challenges, as well as the types of solutions necessary for water management in different typologies of urban densities. Next, we analyze existing and potential blue and green network locations. Finally, we propose the structural framework for a BGI network at both macro and micro scales. The proposed network takes different forms at different scales and locations and offers different types of flood control and stormwater management options. These can provide directions on Dhaka’s future urban consolidation and expansion with a balance of man-made and natural elements and enable environmental, social, spatial, financial, and governance benefits. The paper concludes with some practical implications and challenges for implementing BGI in Dhaka. Full article
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Article
Predicting Land Use Changes in Philadelphia Following Green Infrastructure Policies
Land 2019, 8(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8020028 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 2965
Abstract
Urbanization is a rapid global trend, leading to consequences such as urban heat islands and local flooding. Imminent climate change is predicted to intensify these consequences, forcing cities to rethink common infrastructure practices. One popular method of adaptation is green infrastructure implementation, which [...] Read more.
Urbanization is a rapid global trend, leading to consequences such as urban heat islands and local flooding. Imminent climate change is predicted to intensify these consequences, forcing cities to rethink common infrastructure practices. One popular method of adaptation is green infrastructure implementation, which has been found to reduce local temperatures and alleviate excess runoff when installed effectively. As cities continue to change and adapt, land use/landcover modeling becomes an important tool for city officials in planning future land usage. This study uses a combination of cellular automata, machine learning, and Markov chain analysis to predict high resolution land use/landcover changes in Philadelphia, PA, USA for the year 2036. The 2036 landcover model assumes full implementation of Philadelphia’s green infrastructure program and past temporal trends of urbanization. The methodology used to create the 2036 model was validated by creating an intermediate prediction of a 2015 landcover that was then compared to an existing 2015 landcover. The accuracy of the validation was determined using Kappa statistics and disagreement scores. The 2036 model successfully met Philadelphia’s green infrastructure goals. A variety of landscape metrics demonstrated an overall decrease in fragmentation throughout the landscape due to increases in urban landcover. Full article
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Other

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Opinion
Lawns in Cities: From a Globalised Urban Green Space Phenomenon to Sustainable Nature-Based Solutions
Land 2020, 9(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030073 - 02 Mar 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2963
Abstract
This opinion paper discusses urban lawns, the most common part of open green spaces and urban green infrastructures. It highlights both the ecosystem services and also disservices provided by urban lawns based on the authors’ experience of working within interdisciplinary research projects on [...] Read more.
This opinion paper discusses urban lawns, the most common part of open green spaces and urban green infrastructures. It highlights both the ecosystem services and also disservices provided by urban lawns based on the authors’ experience of working within interdisciplinary research projects on lawns in different cities of Europe (Germany, Sweden and Russia), New Zealand (Christchurch), USA (Syracuse, NY) and Australia (Perth). It complements this experience with a detailed literature review based on the most recent studies of different biophysical, social, planning and design aspects of lawns. We also used an international workshop as an important part of the research methodology. We argue that although lawns of Europe and the United States of America are now relatively well studied, other parts of the world still underestimate the importance of researching lawns as a complex ecological and social phenomenon. One of the core objectives of this paper is to share a paradigm of nature-based solutions in the context of lawns, which can be an important step towards finding resilient sustainable alternatives for urban green spaces in the time of growing urbanisation, increased urban land use competition, various user demands and related societal challenges of the urban environment. We hypothesise that these solutions may be found in urban ecosystems and various local native plant communities that are rich in species and able to withstand harsh conditions such as heavy trampling and droughts. To support the theoretical hypothesis of the relevance of nature-based solutions for lawns we also suggest and discuss the concept of two natures—different approaches to the vision of urban nature, including the understanding and appreciation of lawns. This will help to increase the awareness of existing local ecological approaches as well as an importance of introducing innovative landscape architecture practices. This article suggests that there is a potential for future transdisciplinary international research that might aid our understanding of lawns in different climatic and socio-cultural conditions as well as develop locally adapted (to environmental conditions, social needs and management policies) and accepted nature-based solutions. Full article
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