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

  • Sean Burkholder

    ()

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

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    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.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 6 (June)
    Pages: 1154-1172

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:6:p:1154-1172:d:18143
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    1. 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, 03.
    2. 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.
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