‘A green thought in a green shade’: understanding and amplifying the many worths of urban nature
Increasing attention is being devoted to the value of the natural environment as ‘green infrastructure’, as a generator of ‘ecosystem services’, and as a significant factor in human health and wellbeing (Pretty et al, 2005; Wood et al, 2015). Yet the particular role of urban nature in supporting human wellbeing has been constantly overlooked in discussions of value (Dennis and James, 2016).
The provision, care, use and benefits of natural landscapes in urban settings, whether formal parks or ‘in-between’ spaces beside watercourses, footpaths and in housing estates, remains under-researched in academia and under-resourced in practice. In particular, emerging knowledge of the benefits of natural urban spaces for wellbeing (Tzoulas et al, 2007; Douglas et al, 2017) contrasts with asset management approaches that view public green spaces as liabilities.
Following Funtowicz and Ravetz (1994) we recognise that there is more than one way of understanding ‘the worth of a songbird’. Yet translating the ‘many worths of nature’ (Blok, 2013) into intelligent and intelligible urban planning and decision-making that demonstrably maximises human wellbeing remains fraught.
With this in mind, we wish to provide a platform for scholarship that not only highlights the contested care of natural urban spaces, but engages theoretically and empirically with the wellbeing benefits provided by a wide range of natural environments in urban settings and seeks to discover how such benefits can be analysed, valued and intensified.
We are planning either a single or double session with 4 papers per session, 15 minute presentations and 5 minute discussant feedback, and 20 minutes of open conversation around key themes raised by the paper contributions.
We invite contributions that explore:
- The contributions of spaces of urban nature to mental wellbeing and social participation
- Experiences and understandings of urban nature within disadvantaged and marginalised communities and neighbourhoods
- Novel approaches to the valuation of urban nature and assessment of costs and benefits, bridging disciplines and research methods
- The interface between evidence, policy and practice in providing and maintaining urban green spaces and addressing inequalities of access
Abstracts of up to 250 words should be sent to Julian Dobson ([log in to unmask]) and Nicola Dempsey ([log in to unmask]) by 15 January 2018. If you would like to submit a paper and cannot meet this deadline please let us know.
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