Project: URBANGAIA – Managing urban Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure to increase city resilience.

Acronym URBANGAIA (Reference Number: 143)
Duration 30/09/2016 - 29/09/2019
Project Topic UrbanGaia will capitalize the untapped knowledge of the many existing Green-Blue Infrastructures (GBIs) in the urban context. The project has the explicit aim to develop realistic indicators to evaluate, manage and develop performant GBIs in cities and intensively managed landscapes. More than half of the global population is living in cities, and this number is increasing. The need for resilient and healthy ecosystems, fostering biodiversity and maintain human wellbeing under different future scenarios is particularly pressing in urban contexts where the highest population densities coincide with highest environmental impacts. Urbanisation and increase of built surfaces are main drivers for fragmentation, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss in Europe. Urbanisation provokes fragmentation and degradation: ecological connectivity and ecosystem condition (quantity as well as quality) are heavily affected especially in urbanized areas. This decreases ecological resilience, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity, in turn affecting the supply of ecosystem services and all potential well-being benefits related to it. Cities are highly complex socio-ecological systems, and the needs and desires to improve well-being are highly variable within and between cities and through time. The demand for –and use of- ecosystem services is therefore equally diverse and context-dependent, and transdisciplinary approaches are essential to capture this complexity and be able to scale up findings to higher spatial and institutional levels. Green-Blue Infrastructures (GBI), ranging from technological solutions with an ecological component to entirely nature-based solutions, are hypothesised to increase ecological connectivity and quality, improve biodiversity and functioning, deliver multiple ecosystem services and direct improvements of human wellbeing. Moreover, GBI have an indirect well-being effect by mitigating the negative urbanisation cascade. UrbanGaia will contribute to the ecological and social-economic knowledge base by disentangling critical features of GBIs. The project will provide tools for guiding their evaluation, establishment and management. The project applies an innovative two-way approach of scientific mobilisation and spatial data mobilisation on the one hand, and on the other the transdisciplinary project guidance by GBI stakeholders and supported by citizen science applications. UrbanGaia explicitly focusses on analysis of ecological and socio-economic features of the many existing GBIs within a place-based and socio-ecological research framework. The project consists of three main approaches which converge in a transdisciplinary analysis of GBI performance: ecological science, political-economic analysis and stakeholder co-creation. These strands are connected in a highly collaborative work plan among four partners and in four diverse European cities, a configuration which guarantees a thorough in-depth analysis. UrbanGaia will advance the scientific frontiers concerning new insights, methodologies and actionable tools for sustainable urban landscape management and its underpinning by ecological quality and biodiversity. UrbanGaia herewith responds directly to an urgent societal demand at local to global levels, as well as to several (EU-)policy requests.
Network BiodivERsA3
Call BiodivERsA3 Joint Call 2015

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra Coordinator Portugal
2 Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research Partner Germany
3 Mykolas Romeris University Partner Lithuania
4 Research Institute for Nature and Forest Partner Belgium
5 University of Málaga Partner Spain