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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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Peter Werner

1. Introduction

It is now largely accepted that there is a connection between urban form, as defined by the parameters size, density, and compactness, and the ecological impacts of cities. It is therefore not surprising that there has been intensive scientific and political discourse on urban form and sustainable urban development in recent years (JENKS & DEMPSEY 2005, WILLIAMS et al. 2003). The discussion centres on the compact city (JENKS et al. 1996, JENKS & BURGESS 2000). Especially in Europe, the historically grown city defined by clear development limits and a densely developed centre is regarded as a model. Many town, regional, and environmental planners dealing with sustainable urban development regard the compact city as the only sustainable urban form, a form to strive for and to defend.

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