Urban Protected Areas in Relation to Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Cities are hot spots of biodiversity. They offer species-rich and structurally complex habitats. Many kinds of nature, including newly established wilderness areas can be found in cities. Some ecologists believe a paradigm shift is necessary when considering biodiversity in context of cities, in order to cope with the particularity of urban conditions.

Environmental conservation efforts in cities should be aimed at the preservation of urban nature against its potential destruction. Cities use state laws and enacted regulations particularly intended to manage the use of green urban spaces. However, these protective regulations (for the most part) only target certain components of the natural environment, of which are highly valued (for example, rare species and their habitats). Urban protected areas are thus often referred to as "protected islands" which are isolated. Some of these preserves are designed to reduce or even rule out human presence in order to limit anthropogenic impact. It has become much more pertinent to connect the protection and usage of nature in cities.

The conflict between nature protection and human impact has to be better managed. The benefits of (protected) nature should be made available for urban residents. Many visitors lack experience of wild nature and have a preference for gardens and landscaped areas.

Main topics of the session are:
  • What is the target of urban nature protection?
  • In what way is urban wilderness a target of protection?
  • How to manage conflicts between urban protected areas and biodiversity targets and residents interests?
  • What are the main reasons of urban nature protection: species/habitat conservation, social use, ecosystem services provision, education and nature contact, urban economy (tourism) or any combination of these?
  • How to integrate urban residents into conservation practices in urban protected areas? Is design, planning, and management prepared for participatory processes?
  • How to connect urban protected areas with non-urban protected areas?