Meet the Author:
Paul Downton,  Melbourne

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
Paul Downton

Paul Downton

Writer, architect, urban evolutionary, founding convener of Urban Ecology Australia and a recognised ‘ecocity pioneer’. Paul has championed ecological cities for years but has become disenchanted with how such a beautiful concept can be perverted and misinterpreted – ‘Neom' anyone? Paul is nevertheless working on an artistic/publishing project with the working title ‘The Wild Cities’ coming soon to a crowd-funding site near you!

September, 2023

11 September 2023

A picture of a tree-lined street with people and cars
Green Urban Planning ― Along With the Idea of Objective Truth ― Is Losing the PR Fight
Rob McDonald, Basel

A core tenant of the environmental movement is under attack. Planning, and particularly the rational planning model, is seen as something suspect, an enemy of the people. The whole idea of rational, technocratic planning to achieve social goals is being rejected by some, as an elitist pursuit that must be...

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5 September 2023

A picture of a glass and green building
Redefining Urban Nature for a Carbon-Negative City
Sarah Hinners, Salt Lake City

I frequently ask students, colleagues, practitioners, and fellow ecologists to consider how a city can become more like a forest. I started to do this in 2019 when I (perhaps belatedly!) came to understand that just reducing our carbon emissions ― even to neutral ― is not enough to prevent...

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August, 2023

29 August 2023

A digital model of greenspaces amongst buildings and concrete walkways
Designing Urban Green Spaces for Health and Well-being
Marthe Derkzen, Arnhem/Nijmegen Takemi Sugiyama, Melbourne Agnès Patuano, Wageningen John Boon, Amsterdam Andrea Ramírez-Agudelo, Bonn Arthur Feinberg, Rotterdam

How can we design urban green spaces that support health and well-being? What are the roles played by users, practitioners, and researchers? These questions guided our virtual seed session “Designing urban green spaces for health and well-being” during the TNOC Festival 2022. Fifteen participants shared their experience as a user...

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22 August 2023

A picture of a person biking alongside a flowerbed with many trees, bushes, and flowers
The Importance of a Shared Definition to Achieve Biodiversity
Meredith Dobbie, Victoria

Biodiversity is receiving much attention at the moment, not least among landscape architects in Australia. In 2018, David Maddox on this website posed the following provocation: “Landscape architects are the practitioners of biodiversity’s meaning through their acts of shaping nature into ‘spaces’. They have their hands on definitions of biodiversity...

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7 August 2023

Mumbai’s Obsession With Hardscape Infrastructure Will Sink Her
Samarth Das, Mumbai

There is no dearth of global reports discussing the impacts of global warming and its direct impact on sea level rise, rising temperatures in cities, and irregular and extreme weather events such as cyclones and rainfall combined with severe water shortage and drought. These events are no longer what can...

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2 August 2023

Shade: The Introduction to SPROUT Eco-Poetry Journal Issue 3
Kirby Manià, Vancouver Dimitra Xidous, Dublin

For SPROUT’s third issue, the editors were inspired by The Nature of Cities’ (TNOC) recent art exhibition, Shade, and invited contributors to draw on the exhibition’s virtual installation as a conceptual springboard to contemplate the theme of shade through a poetic lens. We asked poets to reflect on the role...

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July, 2023

31 July 2023

Story. Telling. If you had a project from science or practice and wanted to make it a better story — one that could reach into new audiences — what would you do?
Pippin Anderson, Cape Town Lindsay Campbell, New York Marcus Collier, Dublin Paul Currie, Cape Town Bram Gunther, New York Madhusudan Katti, Raleigh Claudia Misteli, Barcelona Steward Pickett, Poughkeepsie Ania Upstill, New York Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro, Paris Ibrahim Wallee, Accra Skylar R. Bayer, Anchorage Priya Shukla, Davis Bethann Garramon Merkle, Laramie Evelyn Valdez-Ward, Kingston Nic Bennett, Austin Tim Lüschen, Berlin Daniela Rizzi, Freiburg Alice Reil, Munich Sarah Ema Friedland, New York City Paul Mahony, Manchester Tommy Cheemou Yang, New York City David Bunn, Vancouver

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17 July 2023

A picture of a large tree cut down with limbs and sawdust everywhere
A New Tree Ethic: What If Trees Really Mattered?
Tim Beatley, Charlottesville

Several weeks ago, I was startled when taking a typical morning walk to find that a large and majestic white oak tree had been cut down and lay in the front of a neighbor’s yard. It was a shocking and sad sight, a tree I had admired almost daily, reduced...

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June, 2023

26 June 2023

Two maps of a city showing temperature through cool or warm coolers
Urban Parks During Heat and Drought Conditions: A Case Study in Leipzig, Germany during the 2018 and 2019 Heat Periods
Roland Krämer, Leipzig Nadja Kabisch, Hannover

Assessing the cooling function of urban parks under heat and drought conditions Thanks to the cooling function of the vegetation, urban parks offer cool, pleasant places in cities during hot summer days. Urban parks are also places for recreation and social interaction. In parks, people go jogging or cycling, meet...

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21 June 2023

Three maps of Boston, MA depicting urban heat
Growing Heat Hazards from Climate Change and the Urban Heat Island Need to Be Integrated Across Siloed Urban Plans. Here’s How.
Sara Meerow, Tempe Ladd Keith, Tucson

Cities everywhere are getting hotter due to climate change and the urban heat island. Places like the Pacific Northwest in the United States, which historically was not concerned about extreme heat as a climate risk, have experienced unprecedented heatwaves in recent years (White et al. 2023). These deadly events, as...

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13 June 2023

A picture of a woman with headphones and a laptop sitting amongst large, leafy plants
Composing an Entropic Symphony from the Sounds of Plants About to Be Displaced
Lucie Lederhendler, Brandon

In early 2018, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, which is located in the western part of the city of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, announced that they would be demolishing their conservatory in April, citing the end of the structure’s lifespan. At that time, artist Helga Jakobson was experimenting with designs for...

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12 June 2023

Visual storytelling: Can comics help us advance solutions to our social and environmental challenges? Yes
José Alaniz, Longbranch Steven Barnes, Los Angeles Emmalee Barnett, Springfield Rebecca Bratspies, New York Deianira D'Antoni, Catania Cecilia de Sanctis, Rome Marta Delas, Madrid Darren Fisher, Mödling Patrick M. Lydon, Daejeon Ivan Gajos, Manchester David Haley, Walney Island John Hyatt, Liverpool Charles Johnson, Seattle Eva Kunzová, Bratislava Charlie LaGreca Velasco, Milano Lucie Lederhendler, Brandon David Maddox, New York Joe Magee, Stroud Heeyoung Park, Strasbourg Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, College Park Mike Rosen, Portland Mark Russell, Portland Lucía Sánchez, Madrid Clifford Thompson, Brooklyn Chris Uttley, Stroud Shannon Wheeler, Portland Midori Yajima, Rome


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May, 2023

29 May 2023

A picture of a waterway full of trash with some vegetation on the banks
From a Buzzword to a Standard: Challenges in Mainstreaming Nature-based Solutions in Urban Planning in the Global South
Seema Mundoli, Bangalore Abhiri Sanfui, Mumbai Harini Nagendra, Bangalore

“Sewage water is a bonus for us.” This is what a farmer in the east Kolkata wetlands had to say about the traditional practice of farming using a mix of sewage and freshwater. The wetlands situated in peri-urban Kolkata, a metropolitan city in eastern India, have a fascinating history linked...

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17 May 2023

A picture of a grey bird with a yellow belly perched on a branch
Can Neighborhoods Provide Breeding Habitat for Interior-Forest Specialist Birds? Yes
Mark Hostetler, Gainesville Natalie Pegg, Gainesville

Interior-forest specialist birds are reported to primarily require large, undisturbed forest areas in which to breed (Archer et al. 2019). Why do these species need interior forest conditions? Conservationists and research suggest that these species are vulnerable to the increased predators that are found in fragmented areas. Also, the abundance...

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8 May 2023

A picture of a young girl drinking water from her cupped hands
The Dilemma of Water Scarcity and Ecological Stewardship in Ghana
Ibrahim Wallee, Accra

The growing significance of sachet water in Ghana — the machine-sealed 500ml plastic bags of drinking water, known in local parlance as “pure water” — as a primary source of drinking water for households is important. It has a major impact towards the achievement of universal access to improved drinking...

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5 May 2023

A picture of a park with a walking trail, trees, and a bench
The Elephant and the Ant
María Aragão

As urbanization intensifies around the world, and the devastating effects of global warming are increasingly evident, it is vital to promote urban ecosystems as a tool to achieve ecological balance within the city. Urban ecosystems are the base to guarantee healthy and sustainable places to live, work and visit. Urban...

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April, 2023

24 April 2023

A picture of a walkway through a park with many tall trees
Pinamar: A Garden City Looking Towards a Sustainable Future
Ana Faggi, Buenos Aires Maria Samanta Anguiano, Pinamar

In Argentina, as a long weekend arrives many people living in the metropolitan area of ​​Buenos Aires flee from the concrete and asphalt in search of Nature. There are many destination possibilities, but one that is undoubtedly a favorite is a garden city, 370 km south of Buenos Aires, which...

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17 April 2023

A picture of a tiny white moth perched on a person's thumb
Urban Biodiversity Justice
Scott Kellogg, Albany

According to modernist philosophy, cities are “human only” spaces built by and for the exclusive use of homo sapiens ― clean, sterile, artifacts of human imagination that symbolize humanity’s separation from nature. Aside from cultivated garden plants and a handful of companion or work animals whose presence is tolerated, non-human...

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11 April 2023

A picture of a map with the colors going from cooler to warmer as they get closer to the center
Explaining the Housing Crisis with the Theory of Constraints
Mathieu Hélie, Montréal

How economic flows and bottlenecks affect urban growth When we encounter a contradiction, it’s very likely that we are facing an unresolved “problem of organized complexity,” to paraphrase Jane Jacobs. Such is the situation with the crisis of urban home affordability and NIMBYism, where everyone agrees that the supply of...

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3 April 2023

An illustration of a person wearing VR googles with space and the earth behind them
What Futures for Nature in Cities?
Perrine Hamel, Singapore

Over the last few months, the metaverse has captured the attention of many professionals, including urban planners. While some may fear a Spielberg-like scenario where we stop caring for our physical world, we can also think of the metaverse as a gateway to inclusion ― where most people could help...

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