Biophilic Cities and the specific role of gardens

Chair:  Monika Egerer, (
             Dagmar Haase, (
Co-chair:   Dara Gaeva, (
                   Johannes Langemeyer, (

Short Description:
Urbanisation and climate change are ongoing processes in and around many cities across the globe, particularly in the Global South. Both processes result in a full range of highly problematic impacts on urban ecosystems and landscapes, and public health and quality of life. Impacts include urban heat island, decreasing and unstable water supply, air pollution, green space degradation, the extinction of human-nature experiences, and, importantly the disappearance of unique native ecosystems as McDonald and colleagues have impressively shown1. Urban green spaces are increasingly homogeneous and increasingly inequitably accessible to residents. Thus, many growing cities and their urban populations are experiencing both the loss of urban green space and human-nature experiences.
To intervene, this workshop will discuss the idea and potential of the biophilic city as a solution to this pressing situation. Biophilia is a proposed innate human tendency to be attracted to and amazed
by the natural world. Biophilic design is a strategy that implements natural elements into built infrastructure to enhance the “sense” of nature’s complexity2 and to foster relational values3 in human-nature relationships. As biophilic cities, cities can engender biophilia through succession-supported designed types of urban green infrastructure that promote ecological complexity and function, and which increase human-nature interactions: urban parks, street trees and bioswales, green rooftops and different forms of urban - allotment, community, peri-urban or backyard - gardens. The latter will be in the focus of our workshop as there is, so far, no integrated idea or vision of a resilient and biophilic urban garden(ing) infrastructure and its relationship to a) other green infrastructures, b) the built space, c) the mosaic of governance structures in the green management, and d) biodiversity aspects and human-nature experiences that gardens could support.
Short (5 minutes) contributions as ‘ice breakers’ and inputs are welcome that address the aspects listed above using visual elements, narratives, or proposal pitches. These short contributions will invite a broader discussion of the idea of the biophilic city and its realization on the ground in different cities across the globe and, in particular, the role of urban gardens. The question of the accessibility of different types of gardens to the urban population and the difference in their impact on the "health" of the urban ecosystem will also be discussed. For a 1.5 h workshop, we envision 4-5 short talks (30 min), followed by posters that illustrate further cases referred to in a 1-hour discussion. The aim of the workshop will be both to (1) generate conversation around biophilic cities through urban gardening, and (2) to propose collaboration opportunities in Europe and abroad.

1. McDonald R, Andressa V Mansur, Fernando Ascensão, M’Lisa Colbert, Katie Crossman, Thomas Elmqvist, Andrew Gonzalez, Burak Güneralp, Dagmar Haase, Maike Hamann, Oliver Hillel, Kangning Huang, Belinda Kant, David Maddox, Andrea Pacheco, Henrique Pereira, Karen Seto, Rohan Simkin, Brenna Walsh, Carly Ziter. 2019. In press. The growing impacts of cities on biodiversity. Research gaps limit global decision-making. Nature Sustainability.
2. Kaplan S. 1995. The restorative benefits of nature: toward an integrative framework. J Environ Psychol 15: 169–82.
3. Chan, K.M., Balvanera, P., Benessaiah, K., Chapman, M., Díaz, S., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Gould, R., Hannahs, N., Jax, K., Klain, S. and Luck, G.W., 2016. Opinion: Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(6), pp.1462-1465.
4. Tidball, K., & Stedman, R. (2013). Positive dependency and virtuous cycles: from resource dependence to resilience in urban social-ecological systems. Ecological Economics, 86, 292- 299.
5. Stedman, Richard C., and Micah Ingalls. Topophilia, biophilia and greening in the red zone. In Greening in the red zone, pp. 129-144. Springer, Dordrecht, 2014.