, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 257-270

Changing patterns in the urbanized countryside of Western Europe

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Urbanization refers to the complex interaction of different processes which transform landscapes formed by rural life styles into urban like ones. Urbanization causes profound changes in the ecological functioning of the landscape and gradually results in a changing spatial structure, i.e. forms new landscape patterns. The existing cities and urban network form the framework for this change, which is affecting increasingly larger areas in the countryside. Urbanization is mainly studied from social and economical viewpoints. Urban planners think about optimization of the land use and about aesthetics when reshaping the environment. Landscape ecology is lacking in urban planning because of different goals and concepts, but mostly because of missing significant information about these highly dynamical landscapes.