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The New Ecology of Vacancy: Rethinking Land Use in Shrinking Cities

Author

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  • Sean Burkholder

    () (Department of Landscape Architecture, Pennsylvania State University, 121 Stuckeman Family Building, University Park, PA 16823, USA)

Abstract

Urban environments are in continual transition. Yet, as many cities continue to grow and develop in ways deemed typical or standard, these transitions can be difficult to acknowledge. Narratives of continued growth and permanence become accepted and expected while the understanding of urban dynamics becomes lost. In many parts of the world, the shrinking cities phenomenon has given rise to a new awareness of urban transition that provides a laboratory of new conditions at the intersection of urbanism and ecology. With property vacancy rates easily exceeding 50% in certain locations, cities in the American Rust Belt look more like successional woodlands than bustling metropolises, yet these cities still contain significant numbers of urban residents. A central question that arises from this phenomenon is: how can vacant land, through the provision of ecosystem services, become a resource as opposed to a liability? This paper looks to recent studies in urban ecology as a lens for understanding the land use potential of shrinking cities, while discussing unconventional solutions for sustainable development of urban land.

Suggested Citation

  • Sean Burkholder, 2012. "The New Ecology of Vacancy: Rethinking Land Use in Shrinking Cities," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(6), pages 1-19, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:6:p:1154-1172:d:18143
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fisher, Brendan & Turner, R. Kerry & Morling, Paul, 2009. "Defining and classifying ecosystem services for decision making," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 643-653, January.
    2. Thorsten Wiechmann & Karina M. Pallagst, 2012. "Urban shrinkage in Germany and the USA: A Comparison of Transformation Patterns and Local Strategies," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 261-280, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:5:p:801-:d:98284 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Gunwoo Kim & Patrick Miller & David Nowak, 2016. "The Value of Green Infrastructure on Vacant and Residential Land in Roanoke, Virginia," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-15, March.
    3. Jeehyun Nam & Jiae Han & Changho Lee, 2016. "Factors Contributing to Residential Vacancy and Some Approaches to Management in Gyeonggi Province, Korea," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-22, April.
    4. Alexandra Gulachenski & Bruno M. Ghersi & Amy E. Lesen & Michael J. Blum, 2016. "Abandonment, Ecological Assembly and Public Health Risks in Counter-Urbanizing Cities," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(5), pages 1-26, May.
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:5:p:491:d:70399 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:296:d:66348 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Gunwoo Kim, 2016. "The Public Value of Urban Vacant Land: Social Responses and Ecological Value," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(5), pages 1-19, May.
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:367:d:68178 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Gunwoo Kim, 2016. "Assessing Urban Forest Structure, Ecosystem Services, and Economic Benefits on Vacant Land," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(7), pages 1-18, July.
    10. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:5:p:486:d:70243 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:12:p:2289-:d:122290 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    shrinking cities; urban ecology; urban landscape; vacancy; off-lining; sustainable urban planning; ecosystem services;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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