Ecologies of forgotten urban ecosystems

Examining the role of urban spaces as ecological biotopes

Lively discussions are taking place about cities as multispecies environments across multiple disciplines. Moving on from modern conceptions of cities as ‘unnatural’ environments, there has been growing interest in cities as habitats for plants and animals as well as humans. The challenge posed by this research is conceptual and political. How should the planning, development, maintenance and use of cities shift, based on recognition that many species call them home? 

This project is a collaboration between an urban geographer (Geosciences) and an urban ecologist (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) which will document and analyse the role of historical urban infrastructure spaces as urban ecological biotopes. These infrastructures have accidentally performed a vital role as urban animal and plant habitats. In this project we ask: what can the political ecology of historical urban infrastructures teach us about planning multispecies cities? 

Focusing on active and abandoned railway corridors and water storage and distribution infrastructures, this project will document the animal and plant species that have found homes in the city thanks to the fencing of these infrastructures and analyse the implications of these ecologies for the planning and management of existing and future urban infrastructure. 

This project is supported by SEI’s 2022 Collaborative Project Fellowship scheme.

Contributors: Professor Kurt Iveson, Professor Dieter Hochuli