About this Research Topic

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This Research Topic has been developed in collaboration with Ricardo Dias of University of Lisbon.

The recognition that humans are important beneficiaries and guardians of nature should be the basis of contemporary public policy ...

This Research Topic has been developed in collaboration with Ricardo Dias of University of Lisbon.

The recognition that humans are important beneficiaries and guardians of nature should be the basis of contemporary public policy design and urban planning. Ecosystems are expected to be resilient and support all of life by mitigating climate change impacts, improving air quality, preserving biodiversity and enhancing the wellbeing of urban populations. As a target of the UN 2030 Agenda, urban green spaces (UGS), as powerful elements that link humans and nature, are understood as key elements to achieve a balance between the environment and society in cities. As cities grow in population and built environment, UGS should not be reduced nor put aside in urban planning. The provided ecosystem services are far from being fully known and several studies have highlighted their effectiveness in responding to contemporary socio-environmental challenges. Research has mainly focused on multidisciplinary approaches without combining different knowledge areas to fully understand the potential of UGS. They cannot capture the interconnection/interdependence between ecological and social systems. We need to fill this gap by providing transdisciplinary views that look at UGS beyond its greenness. The ecosystem services framework has contributed to the field, but special attention is now placed on new perspectives.

The relational values (RV) perspective proposes to focus on the preferences, principles and virtues of human-nature relationships that enable change in decision-making processes. The main contribution of RV is that nature has values even if humans do not recognize them. Alongside, biocultural diversity (BD) recognizes intangible culture as a key to promote intercultural dialogue among communities. Indeed, the motivation to care and value nature needs to be developed based on relational approaches and looking beyond the instrumental values of nature. This can also inspire the promotion of social cohesion in disadvantaged communities.

This Research Topic calls for contributions from theoretical and empirical perspectives on the multidimensionality of UGS that go beyond classic tools, frameworks and perspectives. It also aims to present participatory, case and learning studies and reviews that propose a transdisciplinary understanding of UGS, uses and functions. We encourage submissions to address, but are not limited to, the following topics:
• Theoretical and practical approaches to understand the relationship between human contact and nature in UGS;
• Case and learning studies on the exploration of benefits by contact with nature;
• Reviews on transdisciplinary approaches to UGS use and functions, by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches;
• The contribution of relational approaches to address inequalities in UGS distribution and access within cities;
• Theory and practice of integrating RV and biocultural diversity into urban planning and public policy-design;
• New methodological approaches for transdisciplinary studies of UGS.

Overall, this Research Topic aims to present an overview and profound discussion of recent approaches and frameworks that explore UGS beyond its greenness and contribute a transdisciplinary framework on UGS research, namely integrating into urban planning and public policies design.

Keywords: Urban Greening, Urban Green Spaces, Urban Greening Uses and Functions, Ecological and Social Systems, Ecosystem Services Framework, Relational Values Perspective, Biocultural Diversity, Multidimensionality of Urban Green Spaces, Transdisciplinary Understanding of Urban Green Spaces, Urban Green Spaces Distribution and Access


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