Ecology for the Shrinking City

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This article brings together the concepts of shrinking cities—the hundreds of cities worldwide experiencing long-term population loss—and ecology for the city. Ecology for the city is the application of a social–ecological understanding to shaping urban form and function along sustainable trajectories. Ecology for the shrinking city therefore acknowledges that urban transformations to sustainable trajectories may be quite different in shrinking cities as compared with growing cities. Shrinking cities are well poised for transformations, because shrinking is perceived as a crisis and can mobilize the social capacity to change. Ecology is particularly well suited to contribute solutions because of the extent of vacant land in shrinking cities that can be leveraged for ecosystem-services provisioning. A crucial role of an ecology for the shrinking city is identifying innovative pathways that create locally desired amenities that provide ecosystem services and contribute to urban sustainability at multiple scales.

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