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Special Issue "Improving Life in a Changing Urban Environment through Nature-based Solutions and Biophilic Design"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

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

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Thomas Panagopoulos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Science and Technology, Research Centre for Tourism, Sustainability and Well-being, University of Algarve, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
Interests: nature-based solutions; landscape restoration; sustainable development; climate change adaptation; green infrastructure; environmental justice; carbon neutral cities
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of the 21st century. Consequently, air pollution is a major concern worldwide, due to its direct consequences for human health, as well as its additional impacts on climate. According to projections of the United Nations, the urban population is expected to reach almost 7 billion by 2050. The need for urban growth due to the growing population has to include environmentally sustainable policies in order to address the problem in accordance with a healthy environment. To address these issues, a paradigm shift towards sustainable development for new and existing urban areas is needed, along with multidisciplinary knowledge, leading to solutions that enhance users’ experience, comfort, health, and wellbeing, and in harmony with natural ecosystems, reconnecting urban dwellers to nature.

Nature-based solutions based on the restoration of ecosystems and urban green infrastructure can improve air quality through the removal of air pollutants and carbon sequestration and by reducing energy needs and pollutant emissions through natural cooling and active mobility.

Nature-based solutions also deliver multiple benefits related to health and wellbeing, biodiversity, urban regeneration, urban thermal environment, water management, and climate adaptation/mitigation.

In this Special Issue, we invite papers focusing on, but not limited to, the following topics: Nature-based solutions for carbon neutral cities and improved air quality; biophilic design; landscape urbanism; urban regeneration; climate change adaptation and mitigation.

We encourage contributions that present successful cases of designing healthier, greener, resilient cities, with better living conditions for all, improved air and water quality, enhanced human health and wellbeing and improved mobility conditions.

We encourage contributions that demonstrate successful cases of increasing city resilience to climate change thanks to the implementation of nature-based solutions.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Panagopoulos
Guest Editor

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

  • Nature-based solutions
  • carbon-neutral cities
  • air quality
  • carbon sequestration
  • biophilic design
  • landscape urbanism
  • urban regeneration
  • climate change adaptation
  • climate change mitigation
  • health and wellbeing
  • urban forestry
  • green infrastructure

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Gully Erosion Susceptibility Assessment in the Kondoran Watershed Using Machine Learning Algorithms and the Boruta Feature Selection
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10110; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810110 - 09 Sep 2021
Viewed by 491
Abstract
Gully erosion susceptibility mapping is an essential land management tool to reduce soil erosion damages. This study investigates gully susceptibility based on multiple diagnostic analysis, support vector machine and random forest algorithms, and also a combination of these models, namely the ensemble model. [...] Read more.
Gully erosion susceptibility mapping is an essential land management tool to reduce soil erosion damages. This study investigates gully susceptibility based on multiple diagnostic analysis, support vector machine and random forest algorithms, and also a combination of these models, namely the ensemble model. Thus, a gully susceptibility map in the Kondoran watershed of Iran was generated by applying these models on the occurrence and non-occurrence points (as the target variable) and several predictors (slope, aspect, elevation, topographic wetness index, drainage density, plan curvature, distance to streams, lithology, soil texture and land use). The Boruta algorithm was used to select the most effective variables in modeling gully erosion susceptibility. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), the receiver operating characteristics, and true skill statistics (TSS) were used to assess the model performance. The results indicated that the ensemble model had the best performance (AUC = 0.982, TSS = 0.93) compared to the others. The most effective factors in gully erosion susceptibility mapping of the study region were topological, anthropogenic, and geological. The methodology and variables of this study can be used in other regions to control and mitigate the gully erosion phenomenon by applying biophilic and regenerative techniques at the locations of the most influential factors. Full article
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Article
Regenerating Stormwater Infrastructure into Biophilic Urban Assets. Case Studies of a Sump Garden and a Sump Park in Western Australia
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5461; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105461 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 750
Abstract
The main purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the old modernist engineering technologies, such as single purpose stormwater infiltration basins, can be transformed into quality environments that integrate ecological and social functions and promote multiple sets of outcomes, including biodiversity restoration, [...] Read more.
The main purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the old modernist engineering technologies, such as single purpose stormwater infiltration basins, can be transformed into quality environments that integrate ecological and social functions and promote multiple sets of outcomes, including biodiversity restoration, water management, and cultural and recreational purposes, among other urban roles. Using the principles and theories of biophilic urbanism, regenerative design, and qualitative inquiry, this article analyzes and discusses the actors, drivers, strategies, constraints, and values motivating the stakeholders to reinvent Perth’s stormwater infrastructure through two local case studies. The “WGV sump park” was developed through a public-private partnership, including professional consultants with community input, and the “Green Swing sump garden” was an owner-builder community-driven project involving volunteers, who maintain it. The results of this research suggest that both projects are successful at managing stormwater in a way that creates multiple community and biodiversity benefits. Communities could gain improved access to nature, social interaction, health, and well-being if local governments support these alternative approaches to regenerate underutilized stormwater infrastructure by promoting biophilic interventions. Mainstreaming this design approach identified some issues that may arise during the implementation of this biophilic urban approach, and the paper suggests ways to enhance the wider delivery of regenerative and biophilic design into urban planning, involving volunteer delivery and maintenance for small scale projects and fully professional assessments for large scale projects. Full article
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Article
Emotional Well-Being in Urban Wilderness: Assessing States of Calmness and Alertness in Informal Green Spaces (IGSs) with Muse—Portable EEG Headband
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2212; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042212 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1574
Abstract
In this experiment, we operated within the novel research area of Informal Green Spaces (often called green wastelands), exploring emotional well-being with the employment of portable electroencephalography (EEG) devices. The apparatus (commercial EEG Muse headband) provided an opportunity to analyze states of calmness [...] Read more.
In this experiment, we operated within the novel research area of Informal Green Spaces (often called green wastelands), exploring emotional well-being with the employment of portable electroencephalography (EEG) devices. The apparatus (commercial EEG Muse headband) provided an opportunity to analyze states of calmness and alertness in n = 20 participants as they visited selected Informal Green Spaces in Warsaw, Poland. The article aims to test the hypothesis that passive recreation in Informal Green Spaces (IGSs) has a positive impact on emotional well-being and that there is a connection between the intensity of states of calmness and alertness and 1. the type of green space (IGS/GS), 2. the type of scenery and 3. the type of IGS. The preliminary experiment showed that there might be no substantial distinction in the users’ levels of emotional states when considering existing typologies. On the other hand, data-driven analysis suggests that there might be a connection between the state of alertness and some characteristics of specific areas. After carrying out the multivariate analyses of variance in the repeated measurement scheme and finding significant differences between oscillations in different areas, we conclude that there might be three possible sources of lower alertness and increased calmness in some areas. These are 1. the presence of “desirable” human intervention such as paths and urban furniture, 2. a lack of “undesirable” users and signs of their presence and 3. the presence of other “desirable” users. Full article
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Perspective
Biophilia beyond the Building: Applying the Tools of Urban Biodiversity Planning to Create Biophilic Cities
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2450; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052450 - 24 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1353
Abstract
In response to the widely recognized negative impacts of urbanization on biodiversity, many cities are reimagining urban design to provide better biodiversity support. Some cities have developed urban biodiversity plans, primarily focused on improving biodiversity support and ecosystem function within the built environment [...] Read more.
In response to the widely recognized negative impacts of urbanization on biodiversity, many cities are reimagining urban design to provide better biodiversity support. Some cities have developed urban biodiversity plans, primarily focused on improving biodiversity support and ecosystem function within the built environment through habitat restoration and other types of urban greening projects. The biophilic cities movement seeks to reframe nature as essential infrastructure for cities, seamlessly integrating city and nature to provide abundant, accessible nature for all residents and corresponding health and well-being outcomes. Urban biodiversity planning and biophilic cities have significant synergies in their goals and the means necessary to achieve them. In this paper, we identify three key ways by which the urban biodiversity planning process can support biophilic cities objectives: engaging the local community; identifying science-based, quantitative goals; and setting priorities for action. Urban biodiversity planning provides evidence-based guidance, tools, and techniques needed to design locally appropriate, pragmatic habitat enhancements that support biodiversity, ecological health, and human health and well-being. Developing these multi-functional, multi-benefit strategies that increase the abundance of biodiverse nature in cities has the potential at the same time to deepen and enrich our biophilic experience in daily life. Full article
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