bioSUSTAINABILITY workshop: Urban Biosustainability
Montréal, 16th July 2004.
Near the start of the 21st century over half the world’s
population inhabited urban areas. Various global population projections
agree that most of the world’s growth will occur in urban
areas in the south. Cities are shaped and in turn shape their hinterlands
and the cities they are connected to by culture, trade and migration.
Consequently urban areas have become a force that is transforming
Today, due to humanities unprecedented domination over the Earth’s
biogeochemical cycles, the transformation of land surface, appropriation
of the products of photosynthesis, and the movement of biota, transformations
occur that, as global level analysis makes clear, are done to support
cities, but potentially undercut their ability to sustain themselves.
Therefore understanding the ecology of cities is vital both for
understanding global change and the vulnerability of people to global
A one-day workshop was held at UQAM, Montréal, where a group
of international participants
from ecological, economic and social science disciplines met to
devise a science framework for Urban Biosustainability within the
wider DIVERSITAS programme.
Four main research areas emerged from the meeting:
(i) Urban and urban-hinterland biodiversity patterns
What are the general patterns/syndromes/archetypes of urban ecological
systems at different scales? What social-ecological drivers (invasive
species, migration) determine these patterns, and what shocks (hurricanes,
economic, political) can cause shifts between these patterns?
(ii) Ecosystem services
What do people want from nature in urban settings? What are the
health/productivity/social/economic consequences of having urban
habitats that satisfy these desires? (mental health, illness in
general, divorce, employment) How much variation exists in what
people want? How do we reconcile differences in what people want?
(iii) Policy instruments
What are the policy instruments that can be used, at different scales,
to enhance ecosystem services within urban areas, and to enhance
urban contributions to exurban conservation and ecosystem services?
(iv) Fundamentals of ecology
In what ways are the patterns of biodiversity (e.g. richness, turnover,
abundance, function) in urban and natural ecosystems similar and
different, and how does this influence the design and maintenance
of urban ecosystems?
• A research agenda with four main focus areas;
• The participants in the workshop to maintain links and initiate
research in the areas identified.