Strengthening Urban Green: Planning and design considerations for ecological networks using green infrastructure for target species biodiversity improvement



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Increasing recognition of the world’s expanding population and current global ruralto- urban migration necessitates a better understanding and integration of urban ecological processes into the framework for urban design (Sandström, 2006). Urban areas have seen a significant increase in recent decades in the number of inhabitants with the current rural-to-urban migration pushing the percentage of people living in urban areas over 50% worldwide for the first time in history (United Nations, 2001). Urban development has been found to disrupt ecological processes resulting in fragmentation of wildlife habitats and reduced connectivity - ultimately reducing urban biodiversity (McKinney, 2002). Incorporating ecological processes and characteristics such as species dispersal and resilience into urban design requires special attention to urban landscape features such as green infrastructure that are capable of supporting biodiversity.

This research developed a general method for the assessment of the potential of green infrastructure to support biodiversity based on: urban form, structure, composition, configuration, and diversity. The method developed analyzes the spatial configuration and composition of green infrastructure based on the habitat requirements of specific target species. The assessment method uses the spatial analysis program FRAGSTATS to analyze biodiversity-related spatial characteristics of land-cover types and built-environment features. By applying the urban biodiversity assessment method, green infrastructure can be assessed for its potential to support or increase urban biodiversity and to build urban ecological networks at the neighborhood scale. This assessment is based on specific target species that are selected to represent the potential of an urban environment to support a larger guild of urban wildlife species.