Landscape Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 1213–1221 | Cite as

Improving city life: options for ecological restoration in urban landscapes and how these might influence interactions between people and nature

  • Rachel J. StandishEmail author
  • Richard J. Hobbs
  • James R. Miller
Research Article


The role of humans in the restoration of ecosystems has been emphasised since its inception. The human dimension of restoration is particularly well established in urban ecosystems because this is where people and nature co-exist. At the same time, the altered biophysical conditions that characterise cities place constraints on restoration in its strictest sense—assisting the recovery of historic ecosystems. Rather than viewing this as a shortcoming, in this paper, we discuss the ways in which such constraints can be viewed as opportunities. There is the chance to broaden traditional conservation and restoration goals for urban settings reflecting peoples’ preferences for nature in their backyards, and in doing so, offer people multiple ways in which to engage with nature. In this paper, we consider four main restoration options—conserve and restore nature at the fringes, restore remnant patches of urban nature, manage novel ecosystems and garden with iconic species—in terms of their potential to contribute to promoting human-nature interactions in urban landscapes. We explore how these options are affected by environmental, economic, social and cultural factors, drawing on examples from cities around the world. Ecological restoration can contribute to the sustainability of urban landscapes, not just in terms of nature conservation, but also by providing opportunities for people to interact with nature and so increase our understanding of how people perceive and value landscapes.


Biodiversity conservation Cultural services Ecosystem services Human-nature interactions Human well-being Novel ecosystems Urban ecology Urban ecosystems Urban green space Urban planning 



We acknowledge funding support from the Australian Research Council (ARC), via an Australian Laureate Fellowship to RJH, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the Australian National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Research Hub. Thanks to Heather Gordon for help drafting Fig. 3 and to Laura Musacchio, Michael Perring and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel J. Standish
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard J. Hobbs
    • 1
  • James R. Miller
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Plant Biology M090University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.Natural Resources & Environmental SciencesUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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