Bridging Ecology and Community-Based Planning Towards Earth Stewardship
Friday, August 14, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
315, Baltimore Convention Center
Alexander J. Felson, Yale University
Gillian Bowser, Colorado State University
Charles Nilon, University of Missouri
How can ecology and community-based planning inform one another? Urban ecologists, as they engage with the human-built environment, are trying to integrate social components into their research methods and existing ecological theories, which were developed around fundamental biogeophysical drivers. This integration is difficult because ecologists have limited exposure to the social factors that concern communities and limited familiarity with social science research methods. The complex nature of cities includes varied land uses, histories and management regimes, density patterns, household structures, lifestyles, repeated disturbances, heterogeneous vegetation, and changing climates. Cities are dynamic and are composed of many overlapping and contradictory meanings -- physical, social, political, and economic, as well as aesthetic, intellectual, and experiential. For ecologists to work effectively in cities, they need to develop a range of tactics. They need to develop new applications of ecological knowledge and research methods so that they can help shape human environments and contribute environmental solutions to complex urban challenges.
This symposium will explore ways of using grassroots planning to incorporate ecological science into planning and design in a way that supports community interests and broader outreach and education goals. It will bring together urban ecologists and leading designers, both concerned with the environmental outcomes of community-based planning. Case studies will exemplify ways in which ecologists and designers have already collaborated with communities to improve their quality of life by reconstructing ecosystem services and enhancing ecological functions such as biodiversity and nutrient cycling.