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Small community groups and social networks often possess important knowledge about urban green areas, however they are often ignored when key planning decisions on these areas are taken.
In his dissertation on actors in urban landscapes, researcher Henrik Ernstson from Stockholm Resilience Centre and Stockholm University's Department of Systems Ecology argues that power relations and social networks affect the decision-making process behind the development of urban green areas. Furthermore, it also affects who gets access to these areas.
- With an accelerating urbanization, it is crucial to understand how urban ecosystems provide important ecosystem services for urban dwellers. Local interest groups such as allotment groups and outdoor associations, play an extremely important role in preserving and managing these urban areas. They possess important knowledge that is often ignored, Ernstson says.
Better management and preservation strategies needed
Based on several case studies from Stockholm, including a study of how an urban local movement managed to protect the Stockholm National Urban Park from exploitation, Ernstson has developed strategies for linking managers and user groups of Stockholm urban green areas, in order to improve the management and preservation of these areas.
- Research in natural resource management, has mostly been from a management perspective and less from a critical perspective concerning who in society benefit from these services. Local groups, with strong interests in preserving urban green areas should be involved far more. Furthermore, these urban areas should be acknowledged as important places, where humans interact with different ecosystems and acquire important ecological knowledge, says Ernstson.