During the COVID-19 pandemic, public awareness increased of the importance of access to enough space to reduce exposure to the virus and mitigate the effects of the shutdown. Conversion of open to built-up areas causes loss of biodiversity and habitat, more floods and heat waves, and reduces recreational areas. It weakens society's resilience to shocks such as pandemics or weather - induced disasters. Changes in land use are seen as both a cause and part of the solution to counteract these negative trends.
To build a more robust society, the research project SPARE focuses on the current insufficient integration of stormwater, biodiversity and recreational aspects in urban areas and how to ensure better management by preserving, restoring or implementing more blue-green infrastructure (BGI). An interdisciplinary consortium with partners from research, business and public administration will together develop and deliver knowledge and tools to municipalities, which will contribute to more sustainable land management by integrating these considerations and combining them with other purposes such as high density of built areas, public health, traffic, safety, climate adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction.
SPARE will make its research useful and applicable for public administration by uncovering any policy conflicts that challenge the establishment of sustainable land management; investigate how the design and maintenance of BGI affects urban biodiversity and how to create synergies between biodiversity, stormwater and recreation in cities. We want to develop accounting principles for the use values and costs of BGI that can be used in reporting and are linked to the UN's sustainability goals. Furthermore, SPARE will develop, test and evaluate measures and management methods for stronger involvement of residents and cross-sectoral cooperation for the management of stormwater, biodiversity and recreation that can be used by municipalities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised public awareness about the importance of societal preparedness and of access to space to reduce exposure to the virus and mitigate the effects of lockdowns. The main hypothesis of SPARE is that there will be an increased public and political willingness in the aftermath of the pandemic to also plan for sufficient space for resilient function of biodiversity, stormwater and recreation and thus to conserve, restore or implement more blue-green infrastructure (BGI) in our cities. SPARE is both the title of our project and a planning and management concept (SPARE-management) at the core of the proposed research.
SPARE has gathered a multidisciplinary consortium with partners from research, business and public administration. They will jointly work on providing new knowledge, evidence-based management approaches and tools to better integrate stormwater management, biodiversity support and recreation in urban land-use management by use of BGI and thus increase the space for resilience.
Main research activities of SPARE include:
- Uncover policy conflicts challenging the implementation of SPARE-management,
- Increase our understanding on how design and maintenance of BGI – including re-surfaced streams, other BGI with aquatic components and urban trees – contribute to urban biodiversity and how synergistic effects for biodiversity, stormwater and recreation can be created at the landscape level
- Develop and apply city-wide accounting mechanisms for costs and benefits of BGI and enable also reporting for UN Sustainable development goals
- Develop, test and evaluate interventions and polycentric management approaches for stronger involvement of citizens and to foster cross-sectoral cooperation for integrated stormwater, biodiversity and recreation management.
- Integrate relevant findings from all WPs into tools or tangible outputs, which can be used by the cooperation partners and are easily transferable to other municipalities