Evaluating the spatial and environmental benefits of green space : an international and local comparison on rural areas
MetadataShow full item record
In South Africa, urbanized environments are often studied individually, not taking the surrounding natural environment into account (McConnachie and Shackleton, 2012: 2). Current approaches focussing on the integration of Urban Planning and Urban Ecology seek to address these issues of integrated planning. Urban Ecology practice aims to describe the study of (1) humans in human settlements, of (2) nature in human settlements, and of (3) the joined relationships between humans and nature. Urban Ecology thus forms a major part of Urban and Spatial Planning, with regard to the objectives of sustainable planning and development, green infrastructure planning, and resilience. The role and impact of green spaces to support sustainable human settlements are no new phenomenon (Byrne & Sipe, 2010: 7). This is related to the different benefits which nature provides, referred to in this research as ecosystem services (or environmental benefits) of green spaces. Green spaces, in this sense, are fundamental areas in human settlements, in need of intentional and structured planning approaches to enhance sustainability and said environmental benefits. It is important to realise that the environment in urbanized areas is dependent on the local communities (in terms of conservation and appropriate planning approaches), but that local communities (society) are also dependent on the environment (in terms of certain benefits which are provided by the said green spaces and environment). Rural settlements in South Africa experience various problems and challenges in terms of planning for the environment through green spaces (as well as sustainability), mainly as a result of the fragmentation of these rural areas, the existence of lost spaces, urbanisation, urban sprawl and poverty (Trancik, 1986; Barnett, 1995; IIED, 2000; DEAT, 2006; McMahan et al, 2002). This research attempted to address the challenges of integrated planning and green space provision in a local rural context, by means of: (1) A literature study encompassing research on Urban Ecology; Urban Planning; environmental dimension of planning; provision of ecosystem services; green infrastructure planning; resilience, and relevant policies and legislation; (2) An empirical investigation and comparative evaluation of international case studies, along with a local case study; and (3) drawing conclusions and recommendations for the local case study, based on the international approaches and identified best-practices. This research evaluated the spatial and environmental benefits of green space and enhanced the importance of planning for such benefits in rural South African areas.