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Informal greenspace as
green infrastructure?
Potential, challenges
and future directions
Christoph Rupprecht (@focx)
Jason...
Formal green space vs. green infrastructure
Green space
• Parks, gardens,
conservation areas
• ‘Nice to have’ (Benedict
& ...
Functions & problems of parks and green infrastructure
Potential functions, e.g.
• Air quality regulation
• Temperature re...
What about spontaneous, informal green spaces?
Street verges Gap spaces
Railway verges
Brownfields
River/canal banks
Vacan...
Informal greenspace: A shift in perception
Nuisance Nice to have Must have?
Ecology
Planning
Decay Temporary use
Abandonme...
Beyond parks: Research on informal green spaces
Recreation studies (>65)
(e.g., Jorgensen & Keenan 2012; Campo 2013;
Barro...
Informal greenspace as green infrastructure: Functions
Function Evidence level Studies (examples)
Recreation (human health...
IGS as green infrastructure in shrinking cities
• Expansion of vacant land, but:
• Lack of resources to convert it
easily ...
IGS as green infrastructure in growing cities
• High land cost for green infra
• Strong development pressure
• Sinking per...
Informal greenspace as green infrastructure: Problems
Liminal
space
Access
Liability
PollutionPlanability
Cultural
norms
IGS as green infrastructure: Roadmap for future research
“Basic” research
• IGS quantity
• IGS types
• Spatiality
• Tempor...
IGS as green infra: Interdisciplinary research endeavor!
IGS
Ecology
Conservation
Political
ecology
Environmental
justice
...
References
Barron, P., Mariani, M. (Eds.), 2013. Terrain Vague, Interstices at the Edge of the Pale. Routledge.
Benedict, ...
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Informal greenspace as green infrastructure? Potential, challenges and future directions

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Green infrastructure can provide a wide range of urban ecosystem services, from recreation and health benefits (Tzoulas et al. 2007) to pollution reduction, biodiversity habitat and high temperature reduction (Norton et al. 2015). However, using exclusively formal greenspaces such as city parks and street trees poses two problems. First, implementing and maintaining green infrastructure in cities carries substantial costs (Naumann et al. 2010). Land acquisition may be prohibitive for rapidly growing cities with high land prices (e.g., Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong), while implementation and maintenance costs may limit feasibility for shrinking cities (e.g., Detroit, Leipzig, Kyoto). Second, projects are often tied to expectations for economic returns on investment, which may not benefit local residents but can cause eco-gentrification (Wolch, Byrne, and Newell 2014). In this paper we draw upon recent research (Rupprecht and Byrne 2014; Rupprecht and Byrne 2015; Rupprecht, Byrne, Garden, et al. 2015; Rupprecht, Byrne, Ueda, et al. 2015) to argue that ‘informal urban greenspace’ (e.g. vacant lots, street and railway verges, brownfields and power lines etc.) could be used as green infrastructure, and that it indeed already performs this function to some degree. We discuss how informal greenspaces may complement traditional elements of green infrastructure, how both growing and shrinking cities may be able to integrate it into green planning strategies, and what challenges its use may pose. We conclude by presenting a multi-layered provisional roadmap of directions for future research on geographical, planning-related and ecological aspects of informal greenspaces relevant for its use as green infrastructure.

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Informal greenspace as green infrastructure? Potential, challenges and future directions

  1. 1. Informal greenspace as green infrastructure? Potential, challenges and future directions Christoph Rupprecht (@focx) Jason Byrne (@citybyrne) Environmental Futures Research Institute Griffith University AAG Annual Meeting 2016
  2. 2. Formal green space vs. green infrastructure Green space • Parks, gardens, conservation areas • ‘Nice to have’ (Benedict & McMahon 2006) • Focus on recreation • Planned & designed Green infrastructure • Conflicting definitions on what counts as green infrastructure • ‘Must have’ (Benedict & McMahon 2006) • ‘human-modified’ ‘intentional landscapes’ (Matthews et al. 2015/Byrne et al. 2015)
  3. 3. Functions & problems of parks and green infrastructure Potential functions, e.g. • Air quality regulation • Temperature regulation • CO2 absorption • Water management • Noise filtration • Conservation, habitat • Recreation, human health • Aesthetic improvement • Food/fuel production • Economic development (e.g. real estate value) (Luque & Duff) New York High Line, David Berkowitz, Flickr Potential problems, e.g. • Implementation & maintenance costs (Naumann et al. 2010) • Expectations of economic returns • Eco-gentrification (Wolch et al. 2014) • Failure to meet diverse needs of local residents (Campo 2013)
  4. 4. What about spontaneous, informal green spaces? Street verges Gap spaces Railway verges Brownfields River/canal banks Vacant lots Overgrown structures Powerlines
  5. 5. Informal greenspace: A shift in perception Nuisance Nice to have Must have? Ecology Planning Decay Temporary use Abandonment ‘Just green enough’ tool Crime Recreation Dead space Novel ecosystems Urban ecology ‘de facto natives’ Invasives Diverse habitats
  6. 6. Beyond parks: Research on informal green spaces Recreation studies (>65) (e.g., Jorgensen & Keenan 2012; Campo 2013; Barron & Mariani 2013; Franck & Stevens 2007; Foster 2014; Rupprecht et al. 2015a/b)  Lack of official recognition leads to freedom from purpose  Can be used flexibly as needed ✗ Aesthetic value contested (wild vs. orderly & bucolic) ✗ Vulnerable to development Biodiversity studies (>170) (e.g., Bonthoux et al. 2014; Brandes 1983, 1992; Cilliers & Bredenkamp 1998, 1999a/b; Kowarik 2011; Rupprecht & Byrne 2014; R. et al. 2015c)  Important role for conservation  ‘De facto native vegetation’  ~14% of urban green space ✗ Maintenance common and negative impact on diversity ✗ Can harbor invasive species
  7. 7. Informal greenspace as green infrastructure: Functions Function Evidence level Studies (examples) Recreation (human health) Systematic review Rupprecht & Byrne 2014 Conservation, habitat Systematic reviews Bonthoux et al. 2014, Rupprecht et al. 2015 Food/fuel production Case studies Diaz-Betancourt et al. 1999, McLain et al. 2014 ‘Just green enough’ devel. Case studies Foster 2014, Rupprecht & Byrne 2015 Air quality regulation Case studies Weber et al. 2014, McPhearson et al. 2013 Temperature regulation Case studies McPhearson et al. 2013 CO2 absorption Case studies McPhearson et al. 2013 Water management Case studies McPhearson et al. 2013 Aesthetic improvement Mixed evidence Rink and Emmerich 2005, Qviström 2012, Rupprecht et al. 2015 Noise filtration Not studied? Economic development Indirect negat. effect?
  8. 8. IGS as green infrastructure in shrinking cities • Expansion of vacant land, but: • Lack of resources to convert it easily into formal green infra • ‘Depopulation dividend’ (Matanle): chance for sustainability, reconfigure urban space • Shift to needs-based community management? • Coming to terms with loss of control over urban nature? • Intentional ‘rewilding’ vs. non- intervention approach (Hard 2001) • Potential to satisfy growing demand for urban agriculture & gardening, shrink cities’ food shed Lot 42% Gap 19% Street verge 16% Brownfield 10% Waterside 10%
  9. 9. IGS as green infrastructure in growing cities • High land cost for green infra • Strong development pressure • Sinking per capita private & public green space provision • Temporary benefits from spontaneous vegetation in transitional sites • Source of ‘unclaimed territory’ (Cloke & Jones 2005), that ‘disciplines neither people in their actions nor nature in its development’ (Nohl 1990)? • Opportunity to maximize benefits via policies (e.g., interim use, street verge gardening) Lot 8% Street verge 80% Brownfield 5% Railway 5%
  10. 10. Informal greenspace as green infrastructure: Problems Liminal space Access Liability PollutionPlanability Cultural norms
  11. 11. IGS as green infrastructure: Roadmap for future research “Basic” research • IGS quantity • IGS types • Spatiality • Temporality • Current usage • Past usage • Ecology • Biodiversity • Lifecycle / generation • Towards theory of IGS? • Implications for theory (e.g. more-than-human)? • … “Applied” research • Ecosystem (dis-)services • Potential future usage • Management approaches • Anti-gentrification potential • Legal dimensions • Planning & policy…
  12. 12. IGS as green infra: Interdisciplinary research endeavor! IGS Ecology Conservation Political ecology Environmental justice Geography Planning Landscape architecture
  13. 13. References Barron, P., Mariani, M. (Eds.), 2013. Terrain Vague, Interstices at the Edge of the Pale. Routledge. Benedict, M.A., McMahon, E.T., 2006. Green infrastructure. Island, Washington, DC. Berkowitz, David, 2009. High Line Park - New York City - July 09. Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidberkowitz/3692427372/in/album-72157620875473693/ Bonthoux, S., Brun, M., Di Pietro, F., Greulich, S., Bouché-Pillon, S., 2014. How can wastelands promote biodiversity in cities? A review. Landscape and Urban Planning 132, 79–88. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.08.010 Brandes, D., 1992. Flora und Vegetation von Stadtmauern. Tuexenia 12, 315–339. Brandes, D., 1983. Flora und Vegetation der Bahnhofe Mitteleuropas. Phytocoenologia 11, 31–115. Byrne, J.A., Lo, A.Y., Jianjun, Y., 2015. Residents’ understanding of the role of green infrastructure for climate change adaptation in Hangzhou, China. Landscape and Urban Planning 138, 132–143. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.013 Campo, D., 2013. The Accidental Playground. Fordham University Press, New York. Cilliers, S., Bredenkamp, G.J., 1999. Analysis of the spontaneous vegetation of intensively managed urban open spaces in the Potchefstroom Municipal Area, North West Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 65, 59–68. Cilliers, S., Bredenkamp, G.J., 1998. Vegetation analysis of railway reserves in the Potchefstroom municipal area, North West Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 64, 271–280. Cilliers, S.S., Bredenkamp, G.J., 1999. Ruderal and degraded natural vegetation on vacant lots in the Potchefstroom Municipal Area, Noth West Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 65, 163–173. Cloke, P., Jones, O., 2005. “Unclaimed territory”: childhood and disordered space(s). Social & Cultural Geography 6, 311–333. doi:10.1080/14649360500111154 Diaz-Betancourt, M., Ghermandi, L., Ladio, A., Lopez-Moreno, I., Raffaele, E., Rapoport, E., 1999. Weeds as a source for human consumption. A comparison between tropical and temperate Latin America. Revista de Biología Tropical 47, 329–338. Foster, J., 2014. Hiding in plain view: Vacancy and prospect in Paris’ Petite Ceinture. Cities 40, Part B, 124–132. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2013.09.002 Franck, K.A., Stevens, Q. (Eds.), 2007. Loose space: possibility and diversity in urban life. Routledge, Abingdon. Garvin, E.C., Cannuscio, C.C., Branas, C.C., 2013. Greening vacant lots to reduce violent crime: a randomised controlled trial. Injury Prevention 19, 198–203. doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2012-040439 Hard, G., 2001. Natur in der Stadt? Berichte zur deutschen Landeskunde 75, 257–270. Jorgensen, A., Keenan, R. (Eds.), 2012. Urban Wildscapes. Routledge, Abingdon. Luque, A., Duff, M., n.d. Urban Green Infrastructure: Capturing Ecosystem Value [WWW Document]. URL https://www.rudi.net/books/8935 (accessed 3.25.16). Matthews, T., Lo, A.Y., Byrne, J.A., 2015. Reconceptualizing green infrastructure for climate change adaptation: Barriers to adoption and drivers for uptake by spatial planners. Landscape and Urban Planning 138, 155–163. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.010 McLain, R.J., Hurley, P.T., Emery, M.R., Poe, M.R., 2014. Gathering “wild” food in the city: rethinking the role of foraging in urban ecosystem planning and management. Local Environment 19, 220–240. doi:10.1080/13549839.2013.841659 McPhearson, T., Kremer, P., Hamstead, Z.A., 2013. Mapping ecosystem services in New York City: Applying a social–ecological approach in urban vacant land. Ecosystem Services 5, 11–26. Naumann, S., Davis, M., Kaphengst, T., Pieterse, M., Rayment, M., 2010. 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Informal urban greenspace: a typology and trilingual systematic review of its role for urban residents and trends in the literature. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 13, 597– 611. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2014.09.002 Rupprecht, C.D.D., Byrne, J.A., Garden, J.G., Hero, J.-M., 2015a. Informal urban green space: A trilingual systematic review of its role for biodiversity and trends in the literature. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 14, 883–908. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2015.08.009 Rupprecht, C.D.D., Byrne, J.A., Lo, A.Y.H., 2015b. Memories of vacant lots: How and why residents used informal urban greenspace as children and teenagers in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan. Children’s Geographies. doi:10.1080/14733285.2015.1048427 Rupprecht, C.D.D., Byrne, J.A., Ueda, H., Lo, A.Y.H., 2015c. “It”s real, not fake like a park’: Residents’ perception and use of informal urban green-space in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan. 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