Enhancing Urban Sustainability: Social and Ecological Dimensions
Tuesday, August 12, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
307, Sacramento Convention Center
Jennifer M. Fraterrigo
Bethany B. Cutts
Jennifer M. Fraterrigo
Despite their relatively small footprint on the earth, urban ecosystems exert a large influence on the global terrestrial biosphere and forecasts of urban expansion over the next two decades suggest that the impact of urbanization on natural resources will intensify. Urban land cover is expected to increase by 1.2 million km2, almost tripling global urban land area circa 2000, and potentially leading to a major loss in terrestrial C storage and increased demand for water and other natural resources. Given the current and projected expansion of urban ecosystems, there is a pressing need to enhance urban sustainability through the implementation of policies that mitigate urban resource demand. Municipal governments have also signaled an enhanced level of readiness to implement strategies that can increase urban sustainability. For example, new initiatives target reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased carbon sequestration in residential landscapes through the planting of woody and perennial species, mulching of grass clippings, and regulation of fertilization rates. However, there are several potential social and ecological barriers to the design, adoption and implementation of such sustainability initiatives. Incompatibilities may exist between the desired change and household-, neighborhood- and municipal-level influences currently in place, leading to social resistance that may slow or block the adoption of new initiatives aimed at enhancing urban sustainability. Trade-offs among ecosystem services may reduce the mitigating effects of new policies. Social and ecological factors may also interact to influence the outcome of proposed changes. Although there is increasing recognition of these challenges, the social and ecological dimensions of urban sustainability remain poorly understood and there is a need for more communication between social scientists and ecologists to develop integrated frameworks for improving urban sustainability. We will organize a session that focuses on the social and ecological dimensions of urban ecosystems that influence sustainability. The objectives of the organized session will be to share on-going research in urban ecology and sustainability science to (1) inform approaches for quantifying the influence of social and ecological processes on natural resource demand in urban ecosystems, (2) expand understanding of the trade-offs among carbon storage and other essential urban ecosystem services, and (3) identify profitable directions for future research.