Reseña escrita por Jürgen Breuste. Presidente de la Sociedad de Ecología Urbana (SURE)
Jürgen Breuste es profesor de geografía y de ecología urbana y del paisaje en la Universidad de Salzburg. Es profesor honorario de ecología urbana en el Departamento de Ciencias Naturales de la Universidad de China Oriental, jefe del Grupo de Ecología Urbana y del Paisaje y presidente fundador de la Sociedad de Ecología Urbana SURE (por sus siglas en inglés). Se ha dedicado a la investigación y desarrollo en temas de ecología urbana, ciudades sostenibles y desarrollo urbano.
Perfil en la Universidad de Salzburgo (Austria)
Urban nature becomes more and more a focal point of urban research after so many years of underestimation. Since now about nearly only 50 years more and more publications about urban nature can be found in journals and since the last 20 years also as books, collecting the knowledge and making it available for students, researchers and practitioners.
Since Berlin, Germany was a starting point of modern urban ecology in 1960s the subject of dealing with ‘urban nature’ started as part of landscape ecology, mainly in Europe. Later in the 1990s urban ecology began to establish as own discipline. Text books and teaching courses, meetings, workshops, post-graduate education are actually structuring and developing the subjects of urban ecology. Actual trends are not only to collect more and more knowledge – which is still necessary – about urban nature, but also to make use of this knowledge in urban design and management to let people benefiting from urban nature. Urban ecosystem services and nature-based solutions are in discussion and already in application. Models and scenarios are in work to forecast the urban and nature development and to get prepared for the future status related e.g. climate change, invasive species, changed demands by people and many other challenges.
This remembers us not to forget that cities and towns are the main living spaces of us, the humans and that it depends on us to create our environment there; to develop urban nature on low level of risks, to profit best from it and to seek sustainable and resilient stages for nature in cities. To fulfill all this targets, including our social, cultural and aesthetic perspectives, is not easy to realize and will always imply different solutions and interesting case studies from which we can learn, but which we can’t simply transfer to another point of the urban world.
In 2009 the Society for Urban Ecology (SURE) was founded in Salzburg, Austria, by encouraged researchers from many countries and started with the idea of a worldwide perspective to identify challenges for urban ecological research and urban ecosystem management, to include the young generation of researchers and students and to cooperate in research and management about urban ecosystems.
In order to develop an understanding of the structure and function of urban ecosystems and to advance towards a balanced interaction between humans and their environments in cities and towns worldwide, SURE targets to foster and develop knowledge and implementation of urban ecology strategies globally by strengthening contacts and enriching the dialogue between researchers and practitioners, by representing the interests of the academic community within the wider international institutional context and by making the collective expertise of SURE available, where appropriate, in furthering the discussion of urban ecological issues.
Up to now we organized one world conference (2013 in Berlin, Germany), will have the next this year (2016) in Shanghai, had four SURE summer schools, several international workshops and have now already four regional chapters working in Latin America, China, South East Europe and South Asia. The Latin American chapter became one of our most dynamic. Starting in Brazil in 2014 and organizing the first SURE Regional Conference in Bogotá, Colombia as International Symposium on Urban Ecology (8-10 September 2015). All were impressed about the overwhelming attention and interest of different professionals and especially young researchers! There is no doubt, that we have in Latin America a big community of researchers already cooperating with urban landscape architects, environmental managers and designers, creating a new urban nature wherever it is possible. There is also no doubt, that this is only possible together with the people living in the cities and towns and meeting their interests, supporting their benefits, using urban nature as contact with nature to enjoy it, but also to learn from it, making it our common surrounding in cities.
It is very important to share our experiences with processes as the one María Angélica Mejía did with the wonderful book ‘Naturaleza Urbana’, making it a platform for experiences but also of ‘esperanzas’ or hopes, that this will be successfully used, adapted and implemented on many other places.
It is impressive to read the long list of authors contributing to the book, the diverse perspective of subjects included, and the excellent design and beautiful graphics. I am very SURE that this book will be warmly welcomed for many people, not only in Colombia and Latin America, but also anywhere else in the world. For this a translation into English is strongly recommended.
Naturaleza Urbana embraces the idea of a city and a community from beginning -often forgotten- and it ends up with this: including urban nature into the design and pattern and creating it step by step with small bits and pieces, not less than the ‘eco-city’ we all need.
The book shows that the idea of integrating nature in cities is already taking place from considerable years in Colombia, with more or less results in urban design. It acknowledges that innovative urban environmental experiences do go beyond Colombian capital or main cities. It also shows that the Colombian cities beside many problems and failures in urbanization have still a great ‘nature capital’ with great biodiversity level from which more people could now benefit.
It will be welcome to see that the authors understand urban nature not as a closed up heritage which has to be preserved against damages of people and which should be hidden. The nature is always right understood as a part of ‘socio-ecological systems’ and only can be profitable, protected and developed including the people, the urban dwellers, of different social and educational status.
Let’s make urban nature places which belong to us as urban dwellers, let’s benefit from their ecosystem services they provide us and let’s make them to places to enjoy and to learn.