Matching Items (5)

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Socio-ecological drivers and consequences of land fragmentation under conditions of rapid urbanization

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Land transformation under conditions of rapid urbanization has significantly altered the structure and functioning of Earth's systems. Land fragmentation, a characteristic of land transformation, is recognized as a primary driving

Land transformation under conditions of rapid urbanization has significantly altered the structure and functioning of Earth's systems. Land fragmentation, a characteristic of land transformation, is recognized as a primary driving force in the loss of biological diversity worldwide. However, little is known about its implications in complex urban settings where interaction with social dynamics is intense. This research asks: How do patterns of land cover and land fragmentation vary over time and space, and what are the socio-ecological drivers and consequences of land transformation in a rapidly growing city? Using Metropolitan Phoenix as a case study, the research links pattern and process relationships between land cover, land fragmentation, and socio-ecological systems in the region. It examines population growth, water provision and institutions as major drivers of land transformation, and the changes in bird biodiversity that result from land transformation. How to manage socio-ecological systems is one of the biggest challenges of moving towards sustainability. This research project provides a deeper understanding of how land transformation affects socio-ecological dynamics in an urban setting. It uses a series of indices to evaluate land cover and fragmentation patterns over the past twenty years, including land patch numbers, contagion, shapes, and diversities. It then generates empirical evidence on the linkages between land cover patterns and ecosystem properties by exploring the drivers and impacts of land cover change. An interdisciplinary approach that integrates social, ecological, and spatial analysis is applied in this research. Findings of the research provide a documented dataset that can help researchers study the relationship between human activities and biotic processes in an urban setting, and contribute to sustainable urban development.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Improving Urban Cooling in the Semi-arid Phoenix Metropolis: Land System Science, Landscape Ecology and Urban Climatology Approaches

Description

The global increase in urbanization has raised questions about urban sustainability to which multiple research communities have entered. Those communities addressing interest in the urban heat island (UHI) effect and

The global increase in urbanization has raised questions about urban sustainability to which multiple research communities have entered. Those communities addressing interest in the urban heat island (UHI) effect and extreme temperatures include land system science, urban/landscape ecology, and urban climatology. General investigations of UHI have focused primarily on land surface and canopy layer air temperatures. The surface temperature is of prime importance to UHI studies because of its central rule in the surface energy balance, direct effects on air temperature, and outdoor thermal comfort. Focusing on the diurnal surface temperature variations in Phoenix, Arizona, especially on the cool (green space) island effect and the surface heat island effect, the dissertation develops three research papers that improve the integration among the abovementioned sub-fields. Specifically, these papers involve: (1) the quantification and modeling of the diurnal cooling benefits of green space; (2) the optimization of green space locations to reduce the surface heat island effect in daytime and nighttime; and, (3) an evaluation of the effects of vertical urban forms on land surface temperature using Google Street View. These works demonstrate that the pattern of new green spaces in central Phoenix could be optimized such that 96% of the maximum daytime and nighttime cooling benefits would be achieved, and that Google Street View data offers an alternative to other data, providing the vertical dimensions of land-cover for addressing surface temperature impacts, increasing the model accuracy over the use of horizontal land-cover data alone. Taken together, the dissertation points the way towards the integration of research directions to better understand the consequences of detailed land conditions on temperatures in urban areas, providing insights for urban designs to alleviate these extremes.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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How cities think: knowledge-action systems analysis for urban sustainability in San Juan, Puerto Rico

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With more than 70 percent of the world's population expected to live in cities by 2050, it behooves us to understand urban sustainability and improve the capacity of city planners

With more than 70 percent of the world's population expected to live in cities by 2050, it behooves us to understand urban sustainability and improve the capacity of city planners and policymakers to achieve sustainable goals. Producing and linking knowledge to action is a key tenet of sustainability science. This dissertation examines how knowledge-action systems -- the networks of actors involved in the production, sharing and use of policy-relevant knowledge -- work in order to inform what capacities are necessary to effectively attain sustainable outcomes. Little is known about how knowledge-action systems work in cities and how they should be designed to address their complexity. I examined this question in the context of land use and green area governance in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where political conflict exists over extensive development, particularly over the city's remaining green areas. I developed and applied an interdisciplinary framework -- the Knowledge-Action System Analysis (KASA) Framework --that integrates concepts of social network analysis and knowledge co-production (i.e., epistemic cultures and boundary work). Implementation of the framework involved multiple methods --surveys, interviews, participant observations, and document--to gather and analyze quantitative and qualitative data. Results from the analysis revealed a diverse network of actors contributing different types of knowledge, thus showing a potential in governance for creativity and innovation. These capacities, however, are hindered by various political and cultural factors, such as: 1) breakdown in vertical knowledge flow between state, city, and local actors; 2) four divergent visions of San Juan's future emerging from distinct epistemic cultures; 3) extensive boundary work by multiple actors to separate knowledge and planning activities, and attain legitimacy and credibility in the process; 4) and hierarchies of knowledge where outside expertise (e.g., private planning and architectural firms) is privileged over others, thus reflecting competing knowledge systems in land use and green area planning in San Juan. I propose a set of criteria for building just and effective knowledge-action systems for cities, including: context and inclusiveness, adaptability and reflexivity, and polycentricity. In this way, this study also makes theoretical contributions to the knowledge systems literature specifically, and urban sustainability in general.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Aligning public participation processes in urban development projects to the local context

Description

Public participation is considered an essential process for achieving sustainable urban development. Often, however, insufficient attention is paid to the design of public participation, and processes are formulaic.

Public participation is considered an essential process for achieving sustainable urban development. Often, however, insufficient attention is paid to the design of public participation, and processes are formulaic. Then, participation may not match the local context of the communities within which a project is conducted. As a result, participation may become co-optative or coercive, stakeholders may lose trust, and outcomes may favor special interests or be unsustainable, among other shortcomings.

In this research, urban public participation is a collaborative decision-making process between residents, businesses, experts, public officials, and other stakeholders. When processes are not attuned with the local context (participant lifestyles, needs, interests, and capacities) misalignments between process and context arise around living conditions and personal circumstances, stakeholder trust, civic engagement, collaborative capacity, and sustainability literacy, among others.

This dissertation asks (1) what challenges arise when the public participation process does not match the local context, (2) what are key elements of public participation processes that are aligned with the local context, (3) what are ways to design public participation that align with specific local contexts, and (4) what societal qualities and conditions are necessary for meaningful participatory processes?

These questions are answered through four interrelated studies. Study 1 analyzes the current state of the problem by reviewing public participation processes and categorizing common misalignments with the local context. Study 2 envisions a future in which the problem is solved by identifying the features of well-aligned processes. Studies 3 and 4 test interventions for achieving the vision.

This dissertation presents a framework for analyzing the local context in urban development projects and designing public participation processes to meet this context. This work envisions public participation processes aligned with their local context, and it presents directives for designing deliberative decision-making processes for sustainable urban development. The dissertation applies a systems perspective to the social process of public participation, and it provides empirical support for theoretical debates on public participation while creating actionable knowledge for planners and practitioners.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Planning for Urban Ecosystem Services: Generating Actionable Knowledge for Reducing Environmental Inequities in Santiago de Chile

Description

Cities are hubs for economic and social development, but they are increasingly becoming hotspots of environmental problems and socio-economic inequalities. Because cities result from complex interactions among ecological, social and

Cities are hubs for economic and social development, but they are increasingly becoming hotspots of environmental problems and socio-economic inequalities. Because cities result from complex interactions among ecological, social and economic factors, environmental problems and socio-economic inequalities are often spatially interconnected, generating emergent environmental inequity issues due to the unfair distribution of environmental quality among socioeconomic groups. Since urban environmental quality is tightly related to the capacity of urban landscapes to provide ecosystem services, optimizing the allocation of ecosystem services within cities is a main goal for moving towards more equitable and sustainable cities. Nevertheless, we often lack the empirical data and specific methods for planning urban landscapes to optimize the provision of ecosystem services. Therefore, the development of knowledge and methods to optimize the provision of ecosystem services is essential for tackling urban environmental problems, reducing environmental inequities, and promoting sustainable cities. The main goal of this dissertation is to generate actionable knowledge for helping decision-makers to optimize the allocation of urban vegetation for reducing environmental inequities through the provision of ecosystem services. The research uses the city of Santiago de Chile as a case study from a Latin-American city. To achieve this goal, I framed my dissertation in four linked research chapters, each of them providing methodological approaches to help link environmental inequity problems with the development of urban planning interventions promoting an equitable provision of urban ecosystem services. These chapters are specifically aimed at providing actionable knowledge for: (1) Identifying the level, distribution, and spatial scales at which environmental inequities are more relevant; (2) Identifying the areas and administrative units where environmental inequities interventions should be prioritized; (3) Identifying optimal areas to allocate vegetation for increasing the provision of urban ecosystem services; (4) Evaluating the role that planned urban vegetation may have in the long-term provision of ecosystem services by natural remnants within the urban landscape. Thus, this dissertation contributes to urban sustainability science by proposing methods and frameworks to address urban environmental inequities through the provision of ecosystem services, but it also provides place-based information that can be readily used for planning urban vegetation in Santiago.

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Date Created
  • 2017