Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 119–131

Ecology and urban planning

  • Jari Niemelä

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008817325994

Cite this article as:
Niemelä, J. Biodiversity and Conservation (1999) 8: 119. doi:10.1023/A:1008817325994


Urban areas harbour diverse nature ranging from semi-natural habitats to wastelands, parks and other highly human-influenced biotopes with their associated species assemblages. Maintenance of this urban biodiversity for the residents and for its intrinsic value in the face of increasing population and expanding cities requires that ecological knowledge should be better integrated into urban planning. To achieve this goal understanding of ecological patterns and processes in urban ecosystems is needed. The first step in the necessary urban ecological research is to find out what kind of nature exists in cities. Second, knowledge about ecological processes important in urban nature is required. Although ecological processes in cities are the same as in rural areas, some of them, such as invasion by alien species, are more prevalent in urban than in rural conditions. Third, based on ecological knowledge, management schemes maintaining the diversity of urban nature should be designed. These procedures should also include protection of urban nature, e.g. in urban national parks. Finally, as ecology alone cannot provide the complex information about human influence on urban ecosystems, interdisciplinary research involving natural and social sciences is imperative for a holistic approach to integrating ecology into the process of urban planning.

urban biodiversity urban ecology urban planning 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jari Niemelä
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and SystematicsUniversity of HelsinkiFinland (

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