Special Issue "Rural and Urban Management: Innovative Strategies to Enhance Resilience"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Pere Serra
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Vallès, 08193, Spain
Interests: spatial analysis; remote sensing and GIS techniques; land-use management; urban sprawl; landscape dynamics; rural and urban planning
Dr. Cristina Herrero-Jáuregui
Guest Editor
Department of Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution; Complutense University of Madrid; Madrid 28040; Spain
Interests: social-ecological systems; landscape metrics; land use changes; cultural landscapes; rural development; urban ecology
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The present Special Issue has the overall aim of developing and offering new resilience strategies developed in urban and rural land.

The consensus is that urban growth, especially low residential densities, sprawl, and leapfrog fragmentation have become increasingly less sustainable and more vulnerable to the uncoupling of social–ecological systems, as demonstrated by the increasing frequency of natural and social disasters (e.g., pollution, traffic congestion, floods, droughts, and poverty). In many cases, these situation are caused by the rapid depletion of (natural) resources and uncontrolled market-oriented production and consumption patterns.

This situation is being aggravated by the appropriation of green areas, in general, and of agricultural land, in particular. As a result, rural ecosystem services and functions can be modified or mitigated: decreasing food production, livestock, and fiber in the case of agriculture; rural tourism, water storage, and cultural heritage in the case of rural services; and nature conservation in the case of protected areas. As a consequence, urban policies and management have become less capable of decreasing the vulnerability of rural and urban areas. Therefore, sustainable urban development should consider patterns that provide the capacity to the system to absorb disturbances and reorganize itself, pursuing two objectives that may seem contradictory: a better connection of the city and the territory, and a circular urban metabolism that minimizes the dependence of the city on the territory.

Urban and rural social–ecological systems can be characterized as complex given the possible conflicting norms and values of actors involved and conflicting interests between actors. The intense land conversion into built-up areas causes an intricate and sometimes chaotic mixture of heterogeneous and fragmented land uses, often hosting marginal economic activities that deteriorate the quality of the environment and weaken agricultural traditions and cultivation practices. In consequence, the resulting fragmented landscapes and transition zones can affect particularly the urban fringe and peri-urban agriculture.

Therefore, some key socio-ecological issues of land use regulations include the relationships between ecosystem functions, services, and sustainability; the loose spatial connectivity; the ecosystem adaptability and resilience; and the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Case studies on any spatial scale (from local to global), innovative theoretical and methodological contributions, as well as critical discussions on urban and rural management are welcome, with reference to the following topics:

  • Sustainable use of land;
  • Urban growth form and ecosystem services;
  • Ecological resilience of urban and rural land;
  • Conserving ecosystem services and functions across urban and agricultural landscapes;
  • Landscape patterns of urban and rural dynamics analysed with earth observation and geographic information system (GIS) techniques;
  • Urban and rural management to mitigate climate change;
  • Urban and rural eco-environmental sensitive areas;
  • Urban–rural relationships; and
  • Rural–urban fringe as a problematic zone.

Dr. Pere Serra
Dr. Cristina Herrero-Jáuregui
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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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.


  • rural and urban management
  • land use regulations
  • urban and rural resilience
  • sustainable urban and rural development
  • landscape of rural-urban fringe
  • peri-urban agriculture
  • social–ecological systems
  • eco-environmental sensitive areas

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Co-Creation of Knowledge for Ecosystem Services Approach to Spatial Planning in the Basque Country
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5287; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135287 - 30 Jun 2020
Sustainable development has to be based on scientific knowledge, social agreements, and political decisions. This study aimed to analyse the implementation of the ecosystem services approach (ESA) in the spatial planning of the Basque Country, via the co-creation of knowledge. This paper uses [...] Read more.
Sustainable development has to be based on scientific knowledge, social agreements, and political decisions. This study aimed to analyse the implementation of the ecosystem services approach (ESA) in the spatial planning of the Basque Country, via the co-creation of knowledge. This paper uses a proposal for a regional green infrastructure (GI) to examine the co-creation of knowledge process. It addresses the community of practice; a process of co-creation of knowledge through workshops and meeting, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis using an online survey, and mapping and identification of the multifunctional areas that provide ecosystem services (ES) to develop a GI. Results indicate that ESA has been included in spatial planning actions at different scales (biosphere reserve, metropolitan area, and region). This subsequently created an avenue for understanding the political necessities at play, so that scientists can develop useful tools for sustainable development. The findings also draw attention to the importance of establishing a constructive and mutually comprehensible dialogue between politicians, technical experts and scientists. For ES to be part of spatial planning, ESA has to be taken into account at the beginning of the planning process. We conclude that building bridges between science and spatial planning can help establish science-based management guidelines and tools that help enhance the sustainability of the territory. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The Contribution of Linear Green Infrastructure to Biodiversity Conservation in Rural Landscapes of Southeastern Canada

Authors: L. Bélanger and B. Jobin

Abstract: Conservation of terrestrial and riparian biodiversity in rural environments highly depends on remaining natural linear habitats and human-created ones such as roadside verges and windbreaks. Although individually small, these so-called linear green infrastructure (LGI) represent several thousand hectares of potential breeding or feeding habitat and/or serve as dispersal corridors for several plant and wildlife species. They are also important from an ecological services’ standpoint as a barrier to wind erosion and a filter for pesticide run-off for instance. However, they are increasingly threatened by the growing pressure of land development and human occupation of the territory (urban sprawl, industrial development, intensification of agricultural practices, increase in transport infrastructure, etc.) and often lack of efficient wildlife-oriented design. It is thus important to better understand habitat features that enhance their value for biodiversity and to propose sustainable/resilient management land-use planning strategies. This review paper summarizes findings of several field studies conducted in rural landscapes of the St. Lawrence River Valley (southeastern Canada) in order to document the habitat structure and the biodiversity value (birds, small mammals, and plant communities) of ten different types of LGI (hedgerows, riparian strips, and roadside verges). Results indicate that the overall plant diversity was higher in natural hedgerows and they contained more plant species of conservation values than other studied hedgerow types. However, bird use of hedgerows and windbreaks was similar, but herbaceous field margins were having fewer bird species and individuals than the other two types of field margin. Bird abundance and species richness were both greater in the wooded and tall shrubby strips than in the low shrubby and herbaceous riparian strip types. Those with trees contained a larger number of herbs and woody plant species than other riparian habitats considered. The avian community of roadside verges in an intensive landscape differed from those of the suburban and forested landscape, in both bird species’ composition and abundance (i.e., with more individuals but a fewer number of species) while wider ones particularly when in association with an increase in the shrub cover in ditches and embankments were used by a greater number of birds than others, without nevertheless a difference in terms of plant species composition. Management strategies of LGI in rural landscapes are proposed to maximize their contribution to regional biodiversity conservation while considering farmers’ negative perceptions (i.e., vs. the presence of crop damaging animals and weeds) in order to facilitate their social acceptability. Various changes of the conventional methods of the maintenance of LGI such as halting periodically mowing and stopping chemical control of the vegetation will favour native species succession, an overall diversified plant structure with trees and shrubs.

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