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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Contested representations of benefits of urban nature in a densifying marginalised neighbourhood

Stalhammar, Sanna; Raymond, Christopher M.

Abstract

The aim of this study is to uncover contested representations of benefits of urban nature, and how these are formally considered and operationalised in planning in the context of densification in a contested space. Such examination is necessary to understand to what extent the implementation of various representations allows for diverse framings of plural values of nature in governance, especially in vulnerable areas and contested spaces, and to consider the implications of these different knowledge holders. Through a case study of an ongoing densification process in Bellevuegarden and Lorensborg in Malmo, this study explores how benefits of urban nature are (i) represented in planning and policy, and expressed by (ii) opposing residents within the planning process. The study draws on interviews and document analysis and contributes to an in-depth and localised understanding of the construction of benefits of urban nature in planning, including confrontations between planning, developers, residents, and urban nature. We uncover how multiple representations exist simultaneously at different levels of planning, policy and in the lived experiences of residents. The lack of formal guidelines for how to represent these benefits in planning and decision-making, in terms of concepts, tools and assessment approaches, creates an interpretive flexibility that is not systematically inclusive of a spectrum of diverse social and ecological representations and their underlying values. Rather, this flexibility allowed for representations aligned with the city's strategic goals for densification to be privileged, which in this case resulted in the decision to remove green space.

Keywords

Green infrastructure; urban nature; urban ecosystem services; urban trees; densification; diverse values; marginalised neighbourhood; epistemic justice

Published in

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
2024, Publisher: ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD