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Protected areas in cities and urban areas

Sara Borgström on why protected areas must be better incorporated with urban areas.

Much has been said about the interactions between urbanisation and nature conservation, particularly the importance of preserving landscapes surrounding protected areas. Sceptics suggest that protected nature attracts urbanisation, and that this in turn might negatively impact the area.

Optimists argue that nature reserves are not necessarily eaten up by urban sprawl, and that cities can be a great hope for environmentalism and sustainability. The problem is more that the nature-protected areas are treated as 'green islands' and kept separate from the urban areas.

In an article published in Applied Geography, centre researcher Sara Borgström together with colleagues from Stockholm University have looked at Swedish land use changes in the surroundings of urban nature protected areas over the last 50 years in order to address issue of 'green islands'.

Dont treat them as separate areas
They found that nature protected areas within cities are usually viewed as static patches best preserved if isolated from the surroundings. This could have undesired consequences in the long term.

"There is a general neglect from both planning and nature conservation agencies to recognise protected areas' dependence on the surrounding landscape configuration. This could be detrimental to sustain their values in the long term," says Borgström, who specialises in nature conservation in urban landscapes.

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Reference to article
Borgström, S., S. Cousins, & R. Lindborg. (2011). Outside The Boundary — Land Use Changes In The Surroundings Of Urban Nature Reserves. Applied Geography, 32, 350-359.

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