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Shrinking Cities: Effects on Urban Ecology and Challenges for Urban Development

Marcel Langner and Wilfried Endlicher

Cities in industrialised countries have grown over time, yet shrinkage of cities occurs in many regions. This process has many impacts on urban ecology, which can be observed on urban brownfield sites in particular. The integration of these sites with sustainable urban development must be managed. This presents new challenges for urban planners. The first chapters give an overview of urban ecology concepts and how research in this field is affected by urban shrinkage. The following sections are concerned with botanical aspects of shrinking cities, perception of nature in the context of shrinkage and discussion of aspects of urban planning with reference to several regional examples. The book concludes with a study of urban shrinkage during the life cycles of city archetypes.
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Wilfried Endlicher, Marcel Langner, Markus Hesse, Harald A. Mieg, Ingo Kowarik, Patrick Hostert, Elmar Kulke, Gunnar Nützmann, Marlies Schulz, Elke van der Meer, Gerd Wessolek, Claudia Wiegand

1. Introduction

Earth’s population more than doubled during the second half of the twentieth century: from approximately 2.5 billion in 1950 to over 6 billion in 2000, and at the time of writing in 2007 has reached a figure of over 6.6 billion. Alongside this exponential growth of population is another important demographic trend: According to the United Nations, the anticipated population growth between 2000 and 2030, approximately 2 billion people, will be concentrated in urban areas (UN 2004). The 21st century will be the century of urbanisation. By the year 2030 more than 60 per cent (4.9 billion) of the estimated world population (8.1 billion) will live in urban settlements, compared to 29 per cent in 1950. The 50 per cent mark is expected to be reached in the year 2007. In 2025, more than a dozen urban agglomerations will have over 20 million inhabitants, and some will have over 30 million. 23 of the 25 biggest urban agglomerations on the planet will be in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, rather than in Europe or North America (KRAAS 2003). These megacities are considered ‘hotspots’ of global change (KRAAS 2007).

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