Resilient Urbanisms
From Landscape Urbanism to Green Infrastructure to Infrastructural Urbanism, each framework regards ecology as a primary tenet.

An ecological system's resilience is build up over time, yet can be undone in a brief moment.

This blog intends to share diverse perspectives on these evolving frameworks and to explore solutions to sustaining resilient urbanisms.

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FOLLOWING eca-scape
Socio-Ecological System Indicators for Quality of Life - Finding Relationships

April 19, 2014

The importance of selecting a ‘salient’ or ‘relative’ socio-ecological system based quality of life indicator(s) is that it will provide validity to my research approach and data collection/analysis methodology.

Yes, these indicators first and foremost must be measurable, but often within social sciences, these indicators are intricately related to other indicators and variables.

So, I am then measuring the indicator’s behaviour with respect to other indicators. Right - lovely…

Yes, we are measuring a specific condition, a snapshot in the spectrum of change and action.  So how can we measure this behaviour or relationship?

These relationships can be expressed through Descriptive Indicators.  These descriptive indicators, specific to socio-ecological sytems, can be either affected or not by social policy and actions or processes (manipulable).  

We are trying to measure the influences of these relationships.  Modelling is an effective if not only tool to facilitate this (often input and output indicators - often with side-effect indicators).

Again, it is important to note that no model can capture all these relationships and influences. In addition, the current state is entropic beyond capture.  

Regardless, my research goal is to develop an integrated model reflecting the socio-ecological processes within green spaces and quality of life.


Compare and Contrast - Seeking Relationships in Data Analysis

April 10, 2014

A somewhat significant change to my research approach evolved.  I had hoped to compare and contrast the eco-spatial relationships of urban green spaces to quality of life benefits between two divergent communities - Glasgow (low ranked) and Helsinki (hi ranked).

Though I am still completing this, albeit at a broader level as I am now not specifically identifying impoverished communities, a wider dataset will allow additional interpretation and relational insight.

Specifically, as my data sampling now intakes a wide population strata (i.e. differing socio-economic standings), my data analysis will allow an understanding of the overlap of those characteristics within differing communities’ demographic profiles.


As landscape fragmentation occurs, and multifunctional landscapes increase, semi natural and naturalistic areas such as urban woodlands and agricultural fields/meadows decrease.

So, the ecological quality of these landscapes decrease.

This ecological quality of the remnant patches are important - for both humans and nature - as biodiversity is an important metric for human well being related to ecological quality and thus contact with nature can occur as well - and it is this contact which provides specific human well being benefits that cannot be obtained anywhere else.

So we need research and questions asked - ecological benefits and needs we know well, but the human benefits and needs must be known.  And what are these specific characteristics and metrics which enable human well being?  Can we design and manage these remnant semi-natural landscapes to meet human and biodiversity demands?

As landscape fragmentation occurs, and multifunctional landscapes increase, semi natural and naturalistic areas such as urban woodlands and agricultural fields/meadows decrease.

So, the ecological quality of these landscapes decrease.

This ecological quality of the remnant patches are important - for both humans and nature - as biodiversity is an important metric for human well being related to ecological quality and thus contact with nature can occur as well - and it is this contact which provides specific human well being benefits that cannot be obtained anywhere else.

So we need research and questions asked - ecological benefits and needs we know well, but the human benefits and needs must be known.  And what are these specific characteristics and metrics which enable human well being?  Can we design and manage these remnant semi-natural landscapes to meet human and biodiversity demands?


Cultural Ecosystem Services and Aesthetics

As the Millennium Assessment does not formulate explicit definitions of cultural ecosystem services, we developed our own indicators, using generally one indicator question per service. For example, to gather aesthetic values, we asked: “Where in your community do you enjoy the beauty of the landscape?”. We aimed to present the various services categories in a way that would be easily understood by respondents unfamiliar with the ecosystem services framework


The notion of landscape as infrastructure or as a service matrix put forward by landscape urbanism
is most appropriate to envision the multifunctional role of hinterlands. Landscape urbanism evolved
from design theory, combining high-style design with ecology [80]. It looks at ecology as a
meta-science that allows the integration of culture and art, and where the landscape is seen as a
“hybridization of natural and cultural systems” [137]. Here the landscape is seen as the “background”
of urban agglomerations, i.e. the matrix where the city is embedded. The hinterland is conceived as the
infrastructure for the development of the human habitat under a broader concept allowing for the
integration of infrastructures (water, energy, transportation, etc.) and public spaces [76]. Recently a
related concept evolved that promoted ecological urbanism [77]. Although drawing heavily on the
former, it pays little attention on advances of urban ecology [80]. The latter argues for a synthesis
incorporating those advances to form a new, integrative approach under the term “landscape ecological
urbanism”. The concept of green infrastructure is closely related to the latters.

André Botequilha-Leitão (2012) 

The Results of my Research

March 17, 2014

The empirical data collected and analysed served to directly correlate the urban green space features and characteristics – their size pattern, shape, etc – to specific human well being benefits beyond public health and recreation.  This provided important inter-relational evidence.


As stated, ecological and natural sciences research has denoted what are the ‘preferred states’ of landscapes and greenspaces to provide certain benefits or ‘ecosystem services’.  But little evidence exists to the ‘preferred state’ of fragmented urban green spaces to provide human based quality of life benefits.  Additionally, there is no consensus on the preferred or most functional urban green space form or attributes to provide these benefits.  Though this lack of empirical evidence and agreed upon urban green space benefits is mostly due to cross-cultural services and individual value preferences, this research is social-science based and normative/hedonic considerations were purposefully excluded in the discussion.  Notably, however, in the context of policy response and spatial planning actions, the human quality of life indicators utilised in this research were specific and spatio-temporal; facilitating a quasi-integrated (i.e. socio-ecological) model on which to test the hypothesis and measures.


Landscape Fragmentation Indicators for Preferences

Landscape indices as indicators for landscape preferences

There are only few sociological studies that used landscape

indices to quantify the landscape preferences of humans. These

studies nevertheless indicated that measures quantifying the

number and diversity of land-use types as well as the heterogeneity

of landscapes correlate well with human landscape preferences for

diverse and heterogeneous landscapes (Hunziker and Kienast,

1999; Palmer, 2004; Dramstad et al., 2006; Lee et al., 2008). Since

humans prefer landscapes that are perceived as ‘‘natural’’, landscape

indices associated with naturalness are positively correlated

with landscape preference (Ode et al., 2009).


Green Space Benefits

In densely populated landscapes, residential areas spread and

settlements become more compact. These trends result in

a decrease of green spaces. How does this trend affect local human

populations? First, local residents regret the loss of green spaces

both within settlements and in the surroundings, because these

areas are seen as important elements of the everyday environment

(Felber Rufer, 2006; Tyrva¨inen et al., 2007). Second, the loss of

green spaces seems to have negative effects on people’s health.

Most people visit green spaces to recover from stress: the more and

longer they visit green spaces the better they recover and the less

they suffer from illness caused by stress (Grahn and Stigsdotter,

2003; Tyrva¨inen et al., 2005; Tzoulas et al., 2007). As green spaces

enhance physical activities they generally enhance human health.

In neighbourhoods with a high density of green spaces people are

healthier (De Vries et al., 2003; Pikora et al., 2003) and live longer

(Takano et al., 2002) than in neighbourhoods with fewer green

spaces.


Place Identity

A positive interaction between human population and environment

results in place identity (Proshansky et al., 1983; Twigger-

Ross and Uzzell, 1996). Place identity affects place attachment, the

latter being important for experiencing restoration (Korpela et al.,

2001). Favourite places have a restorative effect on people and

cause feelings such as calm, happiness, being away from everyday

life, forgetting worries and contemplation (Korpela and Hartig,

1996; Korpela et al., 2001). However, for local human populations,

the function of a landscape such as agricultural use may be more

important than just its visual characteristics. Landscape values

strongly depend on personal experiences as well as personal utility

functions (Coeterier, 1996).


Human Preference

Theories describing the biological dimension of landscape

aesthetics neglect the cultural dimension of human environments

(Bourassa, 1991). Landscapes and certain landscape elements

obtain social significance and become cultural symbols. Examples

are historical buildings like churches and castles as well as natural

elements like prominent trees. These elements establish cultural

identity and continuity in local human populations. Their change or

loss is objected by local people because this results in a disruption

between the past and the future (Sell and Zube, 1986; Felber Rufer,

2006). Landscapes thus serve as a kind of external memory,

reminding people of their experiences, values and social affiliation.

Di Guilio, 2009