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Linking ecological and social systems in cities: urban planning in Finland as a case

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Abstract

The loss of urban green space as a result of urbanization threatens the overall biodiversity of urban areas, and prompts us to consider the importance of existing urban nature more carefully. Because urban ecological systems are in intense interaction with human-social systems, it is fruitful to create an interdisciplinary research and planning framework to ensure the maintenance of biodiversity in urban areas. For this purpose, we adapted a suitable theoretical and conceptual scheme for the setting of Finnish urban development, which provides an example of a situation where a lot of nature has so far remained inside and around urban area. The adapted scheme focuses on the land use change as a result of urban land use planning and development, and may provide a way to address the important variables and feedback mechanisms between information flowing from ecological systems and drivers from the social system. Furthermore, we outlined a more specific framework around the Finnish urban detailed planning process in order to study the interactions between these systems further. After addressing ecology-oriented questions of quantity, quality and needs of urban nature, and human-oriented drivers, such as flow and incorporation of information, knowledge, values and institutions, we identified several challenges in integrating the components of ecological and social systems. Creating common conceptual ground for different actors and disciplines, improving communication in the process, matching contradictory values and perceptions, and improving stakeholder participation would be in the best interest of nature and people of urban areas.

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Yli-Pelkonen, V., Niemelä, J. Linking ecological and social systems in cities: urban planning in Finland as a case. Biodivers Conserv 14, 1947–1967 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-004-2124-7

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