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Ecological Land-use Complementation’ for Building Resilience in Urban Ecosystems

Johan Colding, 2007 Landscape and Urban Planning 81:46-55 (2007)


Few scientific analyses exist on how different land uses can be configured for greater support of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Based on ecological premises, and through a synthesis of information derived from the literature related to urban ecology, this paper elaborates on the potential biodiversity benefits of ‘ecological land-use complementation’ (ELC). The approach builds on the idea that land uses in urban green areas could synergistically interact to support biodiversity when clustered together in different combinations. As proposed, ELC may not only provide or increased habitat availability for species, but also promote landscape complementation/supplementation functions and other critical ecosystem processes; hence, realize ‘emergent’ ecological functions of land use. Planners and urban designers could adopt ELC to promote ecosystem resilience when planning new urban areas, such as in the support of ‘response diversity’ among functional species groups, and in the support of ecosystem services. ELC-structures in urban landscapes could also be used as arenas to promote participatory management approaches and Local Agenda 21. The paper concludes by summarizing some guiding principles for urban planning and design.

Keywords: Land use, Biodiversity management, Complementation/supplementation, Ecological land-use complementation, Resilience, Urban ecosystems

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