Special Issue "Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Ingo Kowarik
Website
Guest Editor
Technical University of Berlin, Department of Ecology, Berlin, Germany
Interests: urban ecology; biodiversity conservation; biological invasions
Prof. Dr. Leonie K. Fischer
Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Landscape Planning and Ecology, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
Interests: urban ecology; biodiversity valuation; human–nature interactions
Dr. Dave Kendal
Website
Guest Editor
University of Tasmania, Australia
Interests: human–nature relationships; urban nature; conservation; threatened species

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urbanization is a global trend gaining increasing importance for the future of biodiversity. While urban growth threatens biodiversity, cities can also harbour endangered plant and animal species. Understanding the role of urban environments for species of conservation concern and integrating biodiversity into sustainable cities are timely challenges for research and urban planning. We invite studies that aim to increase our understanding of the urban contribution to biodiversity conservation or that envision pathways towards developing or managing biodiverse urban environments.

Contributions to this Special Issue are expected to address:

  • The role of urban environments for species, communities, or ecosystems of conservation concern in relation to urbanization, urban land uses, management, and other types of human interference.
  • Mechanisms that drive urban biodiversity loss or underpin the survival of species of conservation concern in urban environments.
  • The intersection between biodiversity conservation and the valuation and use of urban nature by urban people.
  • The integration of biodiversity conservation into sustainable urban development, particularly into urban planning, environmental education and the urban green infrastructure, and into the development, management, or restoration of urban ecosystems.

Prof. Dr. Ingo Kowarik
Prof. Dr. Leonie K. Fischer
Dr. Dave Kendal
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 1900 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

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Biodiverse cities
  • Green cities
  • Greenspace management
  • Urban ecology
  • Urban green Infrastructure
  • Urban planning

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4964; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124964 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 829
Abstract
Urbanization is a major driver of environmental change and is closely linked to the future of biodiversity. Cities can host a high richness of plants and animals, and this urban biodiversity supports multiple regulating, provisioning and cultural ecosystem services. Developing biodiversity-friendly cities is [...] Read more.
Urbanization is a major driver of environmental change and is closely linked to the future of biodiversity. Cities can host a high richness of plants and animals, and this urban biodiversity supports multiple regulating, provisioning and cultural ecosystem services. Developing biodiversity-friendly cities is thus inextricably linked to sustainable urban development and human wellbeing. The contributions to this Special Issue on “Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development” in the journal Sustainability illustrate the role of urban environments as pressures on biodiversity, and envision pathways towards developing more biodiverse urban environments that are accepted and supported by people. Contributions reveal promising opportunities for conserving biodiversity within many urban landscapes. The insights from this Special Issue can support urban conservation policies and their implementation in the development of sustainable cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Dog Walkers’ Views of Urban Biodiversity across Five European Cities
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3507; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093507 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 796
Abstract
Contact with nature makes people feel better, live healthier and act more environmentally-friendly. We hypothesized that dog walking, an omnipresent people–nature interaction in cities, translates to a more positive view of urban nature and, subsequently, to more support for conservation initiatives. Insights into [...] Read more.
Contact with nature makes people feel better, live healthier and act more environmentally-friendly. We hypothesized that dog walking, an omnipresent people–nature interaction in cities, translates to a more positive view of urban nature and, subsequently, to more support for conservation initiatives. Insights into such positive side-effects of dog walking are relevant for dog-related urban policies that often focus on negative impacts of dogs (e.g., health risks, disturbance of wildlife). Based on a field survey in five European cities (N = 3717), we analyzed if people who walked dogs regularly valued four urban ecosystem types (park meadows, wastelands, streetscapes, forests), and the plant species diversity within, differently from other people. Opposite to our hypothesis, participants from both groups valued urban ecosystems and their biodiversity very similarly across the cities. Thus, our study does not confirm that regular dog walkers value natural elements more than other people. It thus remains an important challenge for urban planners to balance services and disservices of dog walking in urban greenspaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Social and Ecological Dimensions of Urban Conservation Grasslands and Their Management through Prescribed Burning and Woody Vegetation Removal
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3461; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083461 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 717
Abstract
Natural grasslands are threatened globally. In south-eastern Australia, remnants of critically endangered natural grasslands are increasingly being isolated in urban areas. Urbanisation has led to reduced fire frequency and woody plant encroachment in some patches. Grasslands are currently being managed under the assumption [...] Read more.
Natural grasslands are threatened globally. In south-eastern Australia, remnants of critically endangered natural grasslands are increasingly being isolated in urban areas. Urbanisation has led to reduced fire frequency and woody plant encroachment in some patches. Grasslands are currently being managed under the assumption that desirable management actions to address these threats (prescribed burning and removing woody vegetation) (1) lead to improved conservation outcomes and (2) are restricted by negative public attitudes. In this study, we tested these two assumptions in the context of native grassland conservation reserves in Melbourne, Australia. Firstly, we investigated differences in species and functional trait composition between patches that had been recently burnt, patches that were unburnt and patches subject to woody vegetation encroachment. We found that the functional traits of species converged in areas subject to woody plant encroachment and areas frequently disturbed by fire. Burning promoted native species, and patches of woody plants supressed the dominant grass, providing a wider range of habitat conditions. Secondly, we surveyed 477 residents living adjacent to these grassland conservation reserves to measure values, beliefs and attitudes and the acceptance of prescribed burning and removing woody vegetation. We found conflict in people’s attitudes to grasslands, with both strongly positive and strongly negative attitudes expressed. The majority of residents found prescribed burning an acceptable management practice (contrary to expectations) and removing trees and shrubs from grasslands to be unacceptable. Both cognitive factors (values and beliefs) and landscape features were important in influencing these opinions. This research provides some guidance for managing urban grassland reserves as a social–ecological system, showing that ecological management, community education and engagement and landscape design features can be integrated to influence social and ecological outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Clean and Green Urban Water Bodies Benefit Nocturnal Flying Insects and Their Predators, Insectivorous Bats
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2634; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072634 - 26 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1002
Abstract
Nocturnal arthropods form the prey base for many predators and are an integral part of complex food webs. However, there is limited understanding of the mechanisms influencing invertebrates at urban water bodies and the potential flow-on effects to their predators. This study aims [...] Read more.
Nocturnal arthropods form the prey base for many predators and are an integral part of complex food webs. However, there is limited understanding of the mechanisms influencing invertebrates at urban water bodies and the potential flow-on effects to their predators. This study aims to: (i) understand the importance of standing water bodies for nocturnal flying insect orders, including the landscape- and local-scale factors driving these patterns; and (ii) quantify the relationship between insects and insectivorous bats. We investigated nocturnal flying insects and insectivorous bats simultaneously at water bodies (n = 58) and non-water body sites (n = 35) using light traps and acoustic recorders in Melbourne, Australia. At the landscape scale, we found that the presence of water and high levels of surrounding greenness were important predictors for some insect orders. At the water body scale, low levels of sediment pollutants, increased riparian tree cover and water body size supported higher insect order richness and a greater abundance of Coleopterans and Trichopterans, respectively. Most bat species had a positive response to a high abundance of Lepidopterans, confirming the importance of this order in the diet of insectivorous bats. Fostering communities of nocturnal insects in urban environments can provide opportunities for enhancing the prey base of urban nocturnal insectivores. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
CityScapeLab Berlin: A Research Platform for Untangling Urbanization Effects on Biodiversity
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2565; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062565 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1369
Abstract
Urban biodiversity conservation requires an understanding of how urbanization modulates biodiversity patterns and the associated ecosystem services. While important advances have been made in the conceptual development of urban biodiversity research over the last decades, challenges remain in understanding the interactions between different [...] Read more.
Urban biodiversity conservation requires an understanding of how urbanization modulates biodiversity patterns and the associated ecosystem services. While important advances have been made in the conceptual development of urban biodiversity research over the last decades, challenges remain in understanding the interactions between different groups of taxa and the spatiotemporal complexity of urbanization processes. The CityScapeLab Berlin is a novel experimental research platform that allows the testing of theories on how urbanization affects biodiversity patterns and biotic interactions in general and the responses of species of conservation interest in particular. We chose dry grassland patches as the backbone of the research platform because dry grasslands are common in many urban regions, extend over a wide urbanization gradient, and usually harbor diverse and self-assembled communities. Focusing on a standardized type of model ecosystem allowed the urbanization effects on biodiversity to be unraveled from effects that would otherwise be masked by habitat- and land-use effects. The CityScapeLab combines different types of spatiotemporal data on (i) various groups of taxa from different trophic levels, (ii) environmental parameters on different spatial scales, and (iii) on land-use history. This allows for the unraveling of the effects of current and historical urban conditions on urban biodiversity patterns and the related ecological functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Rivers as Dispersal Corridors: Which Factors Are Important for the Spread of Alien Woody Species along the Danube?
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2185; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062185 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 764
Abstract
Cities are hotspots of invasions, and this is particularly the case for urban rivers, which are known to serve as corridors for the spread of alien plant species to floodplain forests. Here, we present a case study on woody (shrubs, trees) species invasions [...] Read more.
Cities are hotspots of invasions, and this is particularly the case for urban rivers, which are known to serve as corridors for the spread of alien plant species to floodplain forests. Here, we present a case study on woody (shrubs, trees) species invasions across a gradient from a metropolis (Vienna) to rural regions along the Danube River in eastern Austria. In total, we identified 44 native and 25 alien woody species in 75 plots. Five alien woody species occur in at least 10 plots. The most wide-spread ones were species of floodplain forests (Acer negundo, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, and Populus x canadensis), while Ailanthus altissima and Robinia pseudoacacia—which prefer dry sites—were recorded substantially less often. The average level of invasion—i.e., the relative proportion of alien to native woody species in plots—was high across all three study regions. Still, there was a moderate decline of alien woody species richness along the urban—peri-urban—rural gradient. Generalized Linear Mixed Models showed that population density and the proportion of urban habitats in the environs of the plots is significantly positively correlated with the presence of Acer negundo and Ailanthus altissima. Conversely, the occurrence of Robinia pseudoacacia is negatively correlated with surrounding population density and urban habitats. Occurrence of Acer negundo is positively correlated with urban habitats. For Fraxinus pennsylvanica, we found no significant relationships. Our results confirm that gallery forests at river banks are highly susceptible to invasions. We argue that managing alien woody species in urban and peri-urban sites is not appropriate and useful, given that re-invasion is likely in most cases (from adjacent urban green spaces). We acknowledge that this recommendation entails the implicit recognition that gallery forests along urban sections of the Danube will contain a substantial—and likely further increasing—proportion of alien woody species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Quantifying Long-Term Urban Grassland Dynamics: Biotic Homogenization and Extinction Debts
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1989; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051989 - 05 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 737
Abstract
Sustainable urban nature conservation calls for a rethinking of conventional approaches. Traditionally, conservationists have not incorporated the history of the landscape in management strategies. This study shows that extant vegetation patterns are correlated to past landscapes indicating potential extinction debts. We calculated urban [...] Read more.
Sustainable urban nature conservation calls for a rethinking of conventional approaches. Traditionally, conservationists have not incorporated the history of the landscape in management strategies. This study shows that extant vegetation patterns are correlated to past landscapes indicating potential extinction debts. We calculated urban landscape measures for seven time periods (1938–2019) and correlated it to three vegetation sampling events (1995, 2012, 2019) using GLM models. We also tested whether urban vegetation was homogenizing. Our results indicated that urban vegetation in our study area is not currently homogenizing but that indigenous forb species richness is declining significantly. Furthermore, long-term studies are essential as the time lags identified for different vegetation sampling periods changed as well as the drivers best predicting these changes. Understanding these dynamics are critical to ensuring sustainable conservation of urban vegetation for future citizens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Squeezed from All Sides: Urbanization, Invasive Species, and Climate Change Threaten Riparian Forest Buffers
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1448; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041448 - 15 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1250
Abstract
Streamside forests of urbanizing coastal regions lie at the nexus of global changes: rising sea levels, increasing storm surge, expanding urban development, and invasive species. To understand how these combined stressors affect forest conditions, we identified forest patches adjacent to urban land, analyzed [...] Read more.
Streamside forests of urbanizing coastal regions lie at the nexus of global changes: rising sea levels, increasing storm surge, expanding urban development, and invasive species. To understand how these combined stressors affect forest conditions, we identified forest patches adjacent to urban land, analyzed adjacent land cover, modeled forest inundation, and sampled 100 sites across the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay watersheds. We found that the majority of forest patches are adjacent to urban land and projected flooding will affect 8–19% of regional forested land. We observed non-native invasive plants in 94% of forest plots. Trees were predominantly native, but over half of shrub stems were invasive species and more than 80% of plots contained invasive woody vines. Disturbance of human origin was correlated with abundance of invasive trees. Signs of deer activity were common. Richness and number of growth forms of invasive plants were related to adjacent agricultural land cover. These data reveal that streamside forests are impacted by the interacting stressors of urbanization, climate change, and invasive species spread. Our results emphasize the importance of protection and restoration of forests in urban regions and point to the need for a social-ecological systems approach to improve their condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
The Function of A Set-Aside Railway Bridge in Connecting Urban Habitats for Animals: A Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1194; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031194 - 07 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 676
Abstract
As elements of green infrastructure, railway embankments are important corridors in urban environments connecting otherwise isolated habitat fragments. They are interrupted when railways cross major roads. It is not known whether dispersing animals use railway bridges to cross roads. We examined the function [...] Read more.
As elements of green infrastructure, railway embankments are important corridors in urban environments connecting otherwise isolated habitat fragments. They are interrupted when railways cross major roads. It is not known whether dispersing animals use railway bridges to cross roads. We examined the function of a set-aside iron-steel railway bridge crossing a 12 m wide road with high traffic density in Basel (Switzerland) for dispersing animals. We installed drift fences with traps on a single-track, 32 m long and 6 m wide railway bridge with a simple gravel bed, and collected animals daily for 9 months. We captured more than 1200 animals crossing the bridge: small mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well as numerous invertebrates including snails, woodlice, spiders, harvestmen, millipedes, carabids, rove beetles and ants. For some animals it is likely that the gravel bed, at least temporarily, serves as a habitat. Many animals, however, were apparently dispersing, using the bridge to cross the busy road. We found season- and daytime-dependent differences in the frequency the bridge was used. Our findings indicate an important function of a set-aside railway bridges for connecting urban habitats. As most animal dispersal was recorded during the night, railway bridges with no (or little) traffic during the night may also contribute to animal dispersal. As important elements of green infrastructure, set-aside railway bridges should be considered in future urban planning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Wild Bee Conservation within Urban Gardens and Nurseries: Effects of Local and Landscape Management
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010293 - 30 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1084
Abstract
Across urban environments, vegetated habitats provide refuge for biodiversity. Gardens (designed for food crop production) and nurseries (designed for ornamental plant production) are both urban agricultural habitats characterized by high plant species richness but may vary in their ability to support wild pollinators, [...] Read more.
Across urban environments, vegetated habitats provide refuge for biodiversity. Gardens (designed for food crop production) and nurseries (designed for ornamental plant production) are both urban agricultural habitats characterized by high plant species richness but may vary in their ability to support wild pollinators, particularly bees. In gardens, pollinators are valued for crop production. In nurseries, ornamental plants rarely require pollination; thus, the potential of nurseries to support pollinators has not been examined. We asked how these habitats vary in their ability to support wild bees, and what habitat features relate to this variability. In 19 gardens and 11 nurseries in California, USA, we compared how local habitat and landscape features affected wild bee species abundance and richness. To assess local features, we estimated floral richness and measured ground cover as proxies for food and nesting resources, respectively. To assess landscape features, we measured impervious land cover surrounding each site. Our analyses showed that differences in floral richness, local habitat size, and the amount of urban land cover impacted garden wild bee species richness. In nurseries, floral richness and the proportion of native plant species impacted wild bee abundance and richness. We suggest management guidelines for supporting wild pollinators in both habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Urbanization on Vegetation in Riparian Area: Plant Communities in Artificial and Semi-Natural Habitats
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010204 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 805
Abstract
Riparian areas are local hot spots of biodiversity that are vulnerable and easily degraded. Comparing plant communities in habitats with different degrees of urbanization may provide valuable information for the management and restoration of these vulnerable habitats. In this study, we explored the [...] Read more.
Riparian areas are local hot spots of biodiversity that are vulnerable and easily degraded. Comparing plant communities in habitats with different degrees of urbanization may provide valuable information for the management and restoration of these vulnerable habitats. In this study, we explored the impact of urbanization on vegetation communities between artificial and semi-natural habitats within two rivers with different levels of development. We compared species richness, types of vegetation, and composition patterns of the plants in our study. In artificial habitats, the sites with relatively high levels of urbanization had the highest species richness, while in semi-natural habitats, the highest species richness was recorded in the less urbanized sites. Furthermore, every component of urbanization that contributed to the variation of species richness was examined in the current study. In artificial habitats, the proportion of impervious surface was the strongest predictor of the variation in species richness and was associated with the richness of alien, native, and riparian species. In semi-natural habitats, most of the richness of alien and native species were associated with the distance to the city center, and the number of riparian and ruderal species was significantly related to the proportion of impervious surface. Moreover, we found that a high level of urbanization was always associated with a large abundance of alien and ruderal species in both artificial and in semi-natural habitats. We recommend the methods of pair comparison of multiple rivers to analyze the impact of urbanization on plant species in riparian areas and have suggested various management actions for maintaining biodiversity and sustainability in riparian ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
The ‘GartenApp’: Assessing and Communicating the Ecological Potential of Private Gardens
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010095 - 21 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1089
Abstract
Private gardens make up large parts of urban green space. In contrast to public green spaces, planning and management is usually uncoordinated and independent of municipal planning and management strategies. Therefore, the potential for private gardens to provide ecosystem services and habitat and [...] Read more.
Private gardens make up large parts of urban green space. In contrast to public green spaces, planning and management is usually uncoordinated and independent of municipal planning and management strategies. Therefore, the potential for private gardens to provide ecosystem services and habitat and to function as corridors for wildlife is not fully utilized. In order to improve public knowledge on gardens, as well as provide individual gardeners with information on what they can contribute to enhance ecosystem services provision, we developed a GIS-based web application for the city of Braunschweig (Germany): the ‘GartenApp’ (garden app). Users of the app have to outline their garden on a web map and provide information on biodiversity related features and management practices. Finally, they are asked about observations of well recognizable species in their gardens. As an output, the gardeners are provided with an estimate of the ecosystem services their garden provides, with an evaluation of the biodiversity friendliness, customized advice on improving ecosystem services provision, and results from connectivity models that show gardeners the role of their garden in the green network of the city. In this paper, we describe the app architecture and show the first results from its application. We finish with a discussion on the potential of GIS-based web applications for urban sustainability, planning and conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Emerging Urban Forests: Opportunities for Promoting the Wild Side of the Urban Green Infrastructure
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6318; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226318 - 11 Nov 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1688
Abstract
Many cities aim to increase urban forest cover to benefit residents through the provision of ecosystem services and to promote biodiversity. As a complement to traditional forest plantings, we address opportunities associated with “emerging urban forests” (i.e., spontaneously developing forests in cities) for [...] Read more.
Many cities aim to increase urban forest cover to benefit residents through the provision of ecosystem services and to promote biodiversity. As a complement to traditional forest plantings, we address opportunities associated with “emerging urban forests” (i.e., spontaneously developing forests in cities) for urban biodiversity conservation. We quantified the area of successional forests and analyzed the species richness of native and alien plants and of invertebrates (carabid beetles, spiders) in emerging forests dominated by alien or native trees, including Robinia pseudoacacia, Acer platanoides, and Betula pendula. Emerging urban forests were revealed as shared habitats of native and alien species. Native species richness was not profoundly affected by the alien (co-)dominance of the canopy. Instead, native and alien plant species richnesses were positively related. Numbers of endangered plants and invertebrates did not differ between native- and alien-dominated forest patches. Patterns of tree regeneration indicate different successional trajectories for novel forest types. We conclude that these forests (i) provide habitats for native and alien species, including some endangered species, (ii) allow city dwellers to experience wild urban nature, and (iii) support arguments for adapting forests to dynamic urban environments. Integrating emerging urban forests into the urban green infrastructure is a promising pathway to sustainable cities and can complement traditional restoration or greening approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Ecological Services of Roof Greening Plants in Beijing Based on Functional Traits
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5310; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195310 - 26 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 559
Abstract
Selecting suitable species to enhance ecological functions is crucial for improvements in the planning and design of roof greening and in maintaining sustainable urban development, especially in rapidly urbanized areas. Assisted by field trips to enhance studies, the present project assessed the ecological [...] Read more.
Selecting suitable species to enhance ecological functions is crucial for improvements in the planning and design of roof greening and in maintaining sustainable urban development, especially in rapidly urbanized areas. Assisted by field trips to enhance studies, the present project assessed the ecological functions of 207 plant species used for roof greening in Beijing based on their key functional traits. The results indicate that regulating, cultural, supplying, and supporting functions differed significantly among species and families in the study area. Rosaceae species have higher levels of overall ecological functions than other species, and a large number of Compositae species have lower-level functions. Compared to other families, Araliaceae and Nyctaginaceae have higher mean values of cultural and supporting functions and the highest mean overall function value of 37. Ulmaceae, Sapindaceae, Ginkgoaceae, Berberidaceae, and Aceraceae have higher mean regulating, cultural, supporting, and overall function values. Amaranthaceae, Umbelliferae, Lamiaceae, Saxifragaceae, Ericaceae, and Gramineae have lower values. The existing roof greening in Beijing includes some pitfalls with respect to plant composition as well as plant selection that does not consider ecological functions. The following measures could be proposed to increase ecological functions: (1) Increasing the number of plants with shallow roots and with strong adaptation traits to roof conditions; (2) Enriching ecological communities with diverse plants with high ecological functions; and (3) Carrying out rational ecological planning and management based on detailed and objective data on plant species. Future studies should focus on specifying plant functional traits to enhance ecological functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Beyond Assuming Co-Benefits in Nature-Based Solutions: A Human-Centered Approach to Optimize Social and Ecological Outcomes for Advancing Sustainable Urban Planning
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4924; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184924 - 09 Sep 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1204
Abstract
Urbanization deletes and degrades natural ecosystems, threatens biodiversity, and alienates people from the experience of nature. Nature-based solutions (NbS) that are inspired and supported by nature have the potential to deliver multifunctional environmental and social benefits to address these challenges in urban areas [...] Read more.
Urbanization deletes and degrades natural ecosystems, threatens biodiversity, and alienates people from the experience of nature. Nature-based solutions (NbS) that are inspired and supported by nature have the potential to deliver multifunctional environmental and social benefits to address these challenges in urban areas under context-specific conditions. NbS implementation often relies on a one-size-fits-all approach, although interventions that maximize one benefit (e.g., biodiversity conservation) may have no influence on, or even negatively affect, others (e.g., social justice). Furthermore, the current pathways from NbS to various benefits do not rely on a deep understanding of the underlying processes, prohibiting the identification of optimal solutions that maximize synergies across pathways. We present a comprehensive socio-ecological framework that addresses these issues by recognizing that cities are human-dominated environments that are foremost built and maintained to support humans. Our framework demonstrates how we can use experiments and niche species models to understand and predict where species will be and where people will be healthy and happy in a comparable manner. This knowledge can then be integrated into decision support tools that use optimization algorithms to understand trade-offs, identify synergies, and provide planners with the tools needed to tailor context-specific NbS to yield greener, more resilient cities with happier people and reduced inequality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Chicago’s Urban Cemeteries as Habitat for Cavity-Nesting Birds
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3258; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123258 - 13 Jun 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1320
Abstract
Although not explicitly managed for conservation, urban cemeteries may provide a reserve of dead and dying trees for cavity-nesting birds. However, the ability of urban cemeteries to support these birds on current landscapes is largely unknown. We surveyed cavity-nesting birds and their habitat [...] Read more.
Although not explicitly managed for conservation, urban cemeteries may provide a reserve of dead and dying trees for cavity-nesting birds. However, the ability of urban cemeteries to support these birds on current landscapes is largely unknown. We surveyed cavity-nesting birds and their habitat in 18 cemeteries in Chicago, Illinois (USA). At each location, we examined vegetation, availability of gravestones and monuments for perches, and landscape-level environmental conditions. We tested the importance of these variables for presence of individual bird species, and for overall richness of native cavity-nesting birds. We also assessed the availability and characteristics of tree cavities and their distribution among different tree species. We found that most cemeteries contained at least one dead or dying tree. Across all sampled areas, we detected 207 naturally-occurring and 77 excavated tree cavities. Tree species generally supported cavities in proportion to their abundance. We observed 12 native and two non-native cavity-nesting bird species in the cemeteries. Cavity-nesting bird species richness was best explained by landscape-level variables such as canopy cover and distance to water, but local-level variables (e.g., number of graves in a 50 m radius) influenced habitat selection for some species. Based on our results, we make suggestions for how both existing cemeteries and new “green” cemeteries can support biodiversity conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Biodiversity Impact of Green Roofs and Constructed Wetlands as Progressive Eco-Technologies in Urban Areas
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5846; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205846 - 21 Oct 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1513
Abstract
The total amount of sealed surfaces is increasing in many urban areas, which presents a challenge for sewerage systems and wastewater treatment plants when extreme rainfall events occur. One promising solution approach is the application of decentralized eco-technologies for water management such as [...] Read more.
The total amount of sealed surfaces is increasing in many urban areas, which presents a challenge for sewerage systems and wastewater treatment plants when extreme rainfall events occur. One promising solution approach is the application of decentralized eco-technologies for water management such as green roofs and constructed wetlands, which also have the potential to improve urban biodiversity. We review the effects of these two eco-technologies on species richness, abundance and other facets of biodiversity (e.g., functional diversity). We find that while green roofs support fewer species than ground-level habitats and thus are not a substitute for the latter, the increase in green roof structural diversity supports species richness. Species abundance benefits from improved roof conditions (e.g., increased substrate depth). Few studies have investigated the functional diversity of green roofs so far, but the typical traits of green roof species have been identified. The biodiversity of animals in constructed wetlands can be improved by applying animal-aided design rather than by solely considering engineering requirements. For example, flat and barrier-free shore areas, diverse vegetation, and heterogeneous surroundings increase the attractiveness of constructed wetlands for a range of animals. We suggest that by combining and making increasing use of these two eco-technologies in urban areas, biodiversity will benefit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessConcept Paper
A Conceptual Framework for Choosing Target Species for Wildlife-Inclusive Urban Design
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6972; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246972 - 06 Dec 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1387
Abstract
Recent research has highlighted the significance of cities for biodiversity, making them important places for conservation in their own right. Current conservation approaches in cities are mostly defensive. Thus, they focus on remnant pockets of natural areas or try to protect particular species [...] Read more.
Recent research has highlighted the significance of cities for biodiversity, making them important places for conservation in their own right. Current conservation approaches in cities are mostly defensive. Thus, they focus on remnant pockets of natural areas or try to protect particular species that occur in the built environment. These approaches are vulnerable to further urban development and do not create habitats. An alternative strategy is to make wildlife an integral part of urban development and thereby create a new habitat in the built-up area. Here we address the challenge of choosing target species for such wildlife-inclusive urban design. The starting point of our conceptual framework is the regional species pool, which can be obtained from geo-referenced species data. The existing habitat types on and around the development site and dispersal barriers limit the species numbers to the local species potential. In the next step, the site’s potential for each species is analyzed—how can it be upgraded to host species given the planned development and the life-cycle of the species? For the final choice of target species, traits related to the human–animal interaction are considered. We suggest that stakeholders will be involved in the final species selection. Our approach differs from existing practice, such as expert choice of priority species, by (1) representing an open process where many species are potential targets of conservation, (2) the involvement of stakeholders in a participatory way. Our approach can also be used at larger spatial scales such as quarters or entire cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
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