Why Is Understanding Urban Ecosystems Important to People Concerned About Environmental Justice?
We have attempted to explore the importance of understanding urban ecosystems from the perspective of people concerned about environmental justice. By understanding ecosystems as cultural constructs, we are pointed in the direction of intentional cultural change to help ameliorate environmentally unjust conditions. Understanding the complexities of race, class, and justice is key to understanding the complexity of urban ecosystems as culturally defined constructs. If we fail to fully understand urban ecosystems, the urban environment will continue to decline and be made more unhealthy by policy decisions that disproportionately affect people of color and low-income groups. An understanding of urban ecosystems also can provide opportunities for additional networking and information exchange that can be very helpful to environmental justice initiatives.
To achieve these ends we have stressed the need for participatory or community-based research initiatives, the importance of placing concerns about environmental justice within the context of urban ecosystems, and finally we have to called for a new type of professional that will be able to use sustainable knowledge to help us reconstruct urban ecosystems to be more livable. The results of such efforts would hopefully be better community-based initiatives that are informed by economic, social, and ecosystem realities. There would also be stronger, more successful coalitions working on environmental justice and expanding the understanding of urban ecosystems. The time for such action is now.
KeywordsGeographic Information System Environmental Justice Urban Ecosystem Cultural Construct Hazardous Waste Site
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