PERI-URBAN COMMUNITIES : Unlocking Rural-Urban Synergies
Green Structures : Maintaining Ecosystem Performance in the Face of Urban Development and Landscape Change
Urbanization has rapidly increased globally over the past four decades. Almost half of the world’s population is now living in urban regions. Canada is not immune to these changes. Urbanization had resulted in significant change to the physical landscape; specifically fragmentation to the greenspaces and open spaces.
These emerging environments of Nova Scotia and Eastern Canada, most commonly referred to as peri-urban landscapes, are opportunistic and adaptive, socially heterogeneous, interdependent, and enable interaction between the social (urban) and ecological (nature) systems. Most importantly, it is the peri-urban landscapes which ‘bind’ these fragmented greenspaces together, creating a unique, often overlooked, typology needing further research and dialogue.
These peri-urban greenspaces are semi-natural and semi-urban at the same time; they are greenspaces in transition. Just as the smaller towns and cities are transforming into larger urban centres, these peri-urban greenspaces - the forests, the agricultural lands, the wetlands and remnant open spaces - are changing. For example, as human development expands into the rural landscape, the local landscape including the natural and native species of both flora and fauna, are reduced, displaced, replaced, and homogenised with more urban or semi-urban species.
Unlocking Rural-Urban Synergies
Creating strong, mutually-supportive linkages between rural and urban areas is key to realising smart, circular and inclusive sustainable development. The GIPL's researches how synergies between the two areas can be applied in practice to strengthen regional collaboration, interdependence and interconnectivity.
Canada's peri-urban landscapes are a dynamic and contentious zone where traditional land uses such as agriculture, farming, forestry and other green spaces meet infrastructural expansion and urban development. The interests and pressures placed on these modified landscapes often create conflicts among stakeholders and land uses. For example, landscape fragmentation physically separates once contiguous greenspaces, reducing their overall size and connectivity, thus lessening not only views of these greenspaces but opportunities for interaction in which to achieve important human welfare such as physical, social and psychological wellbeing benefits.
The current green cover and land uses of Nova Scotia clearly show the distinction between the lands of the Halifax Metropolitan Region (HRM) and its adjacencies (i.e. edge cities, suburban satellite cities), and the rural hinterland to its North. Within this urbanisation process, the rural transforms into something new, something like the urban, but not quite the urban. This new condition, descriptive of much of the transforming conditions at the growing edges of the cities of Canada's larger metropolitan regions today, can be described as the condition of polycentric deruralization. Over time these conditions may transform into truly urban conditions, or, just as likely, they can remain caught in a zone of transformation, thereby creating a new permanence, neither urban nor rural, perhaps semi-rural, or semi-urban, or neither. These are the current conditions of deruralization within much of Nova Scotia.
The GIPL examines the ecosystem service contribution of landscapes unique to peri-urban regions. Often including fragmented greenspaces such as forests and wetland systems, green infrastructure applies an aggregate approach to analysis.
GIPL’s ONGOING AND CURRENT RESEARCH ANALYSES THE ECO-SPATIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF NOVA SCOTIA's PERI-URBAN GREENSPACES and THEIR EFFECTS ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY and HUMAN HEALTH IN ORDER TO DEVELOP NEW THEORY. GIPL SEEKS TO DEVELOP SUSTAINABLE SPATIAL FORMS WITHIN PERI-URBAN REGIONS WHICH DELIVER MULTIPLE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES SUCH AS FOOD PRODUCTION & NUTRITION EFFICIENCY, HYDRO-ECOLOGICAL PROCESSES, AND QUALITY OF LIFE BENEFITS.
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