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Cities as sustainable ecosystems : ecological footprints and other indicators

Jennings, Isabella (2003) Cities as sustainable ecosystems : ecological footprints and other indicators. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

As concerns mount about the impact of human activities on the biosphere, cities are in the frontline of initiatives to change the course of human society onto a more sustainable path. This thesis seeks to make clear the foundations of the concept of Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems, and to develop a set of indicators to chart a more sustainable course. To achieve this, the concept of sustainabllity; the characteristics and strategies of
sustainable ecosystems and sustainable societal-ecological systems; the dynamics of current cities; and a range of indicator approaches, were investigated through a review of literature, including texts, journals and online resources. From this a sustainability assessment tool was devised to apply the ideas and indicators at a subdivision level, and it was used in two case studies of new urban developments in Perth, Western Australia.

The concept of Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems offers the opportunity to integrate various sources of wisdom to provide guidance in rebuilding connections between people, between people and place, and in designing integrated systems, based on the characteristics and strategies of sustainable systems. A major conclusion of this research is that cities need to be viewed as part of their bioregions, and their ecological footprints need to match their bioregions. Indicators provide feedback about progress towards sustainability. They are most powerful when they are devised by communities working with experts. Crucial too is the visibility of ecological processes in cities as well as linkages to the bioregion, providing immediate and tangible indicators feedback to
complement quantitative indicators. Response indicators such as the degree of civic participation provide some of the strongest signs of future improvements or decline. The sustainability assessment tool represents an attempt to provide a systemic approach to the assessment of urban developments, and to identify issues that need to be considered in the design.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering Science
Notes: A digital copy of this thesis is not available. Your library can request a copy from Murdoch University Library via Document Delivery. A fee applies to this service.
Supervisor: Ho, Goen
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/38394
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