This book showcases the diversity of ways in which urban residents from varying cultural contexts view, interact, engage with and give meaning to urban nature, aiming to counterbalance the dominance of Western depictions and values of urban nature and design.
Urban nature has up to now largely been defined, planned and managed in a way that is heavily dominated by Western understandings, values and appreciations, which has spread through colonialism and globalisation. As cities increasingly represent a diversity of cultures, and urban nature is being increasingly recognised as contributing to residents' wellbeing, belonging and overall quality of life, it is important to consider the numerous ways in which urban nature is understood and appreciated. This collection of case studies includes examples from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and reflects on the multi-dimensional aspects of engagements with urban nature through a biocultural diversity lens. The chapters cover several themes such as how engagements with nature contribute to a sense of wellbeing and belonging; the implications that diversity has on the provision, design and management of urban environments; and the threats inhibiting residents' abilities to engage meaningfully with nature. The book challenges the dominant discourse, Western ideological understandings and meta-narratives of modernisation and unilineal urban transitions.
A timely addition to the literature, Urban Nature: Enriching Belonging, Wellbeing and Bioculture offers an alternative to Western ideological understandings of nature and values and will be of great interest to those working in human and environmental urban ecology. It will also be key reading for students in the relevant fields of anthropology, development studies, geography, social ecology and urban studies.
Michelle L. Cocks is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, Rhodes University, South Africa.Charlie M. Shackleton is Professor and DST/NRF Research Chair of Interdisciplinary Science in Land & Natural Resource Use for Sustainable Livelihoods in the Department of Environmental Science at Rhodes University, South Africa.