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Balancing Urban Growth and Ecological Conservation: A Geographical Perspective

March 08, 2018
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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Dr. Burak Güneralp
Department of Geography
Assistant Professor


The location, rate, and magnitude of urban expansion will affect wide-­ranging phenomena including ecosystems and biodiversity. A global analysis of urban extent circa 2000 and urban expansion forecasts out to 2030 indicates that the amount of urban land within 50 km of the world’s protected areas will triple by 2030. In particular, Africa and China, both highly biodiverse, have been undergoing high rates and magnitudes of urbanization. The spatial distribution of urban land across Africa and China in and near the protected areas and in the biodiversity hotspots, already extensive circa 2000, will likely increase substantially by 2030. In Africa, there are existing deficiencies in governance and in knowledge base that could otherwise facilitate the integration of ecosystem preservation into the urban decision­‐making process. In China, policies that could facilitate the integration of natural resource protection into urban planning exist on paper, but the prevailing incentives and institutional arrangements between the central and local governments prevent this kind of integration. There are, however, promising initiatives to bring these concerns into the fold to address social, institutional, and ecological challenges that evolve with contemporary urbanization.


Dr. Burak Güneralp is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Prior to joining TAMU, he was a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University and at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research interests center on socio­‐economic and environmental issues brought about by contemporary urbanization, particularly impacts of urban areas on ecosystems and biodiversity and urban vulnerability to natural hazards. He uses various theoretical frameworks and methodologies, in particular, geospatial analysis and systems analysis. He served as a coordinating lead author for the United Nations Cities and Biodiversity Outlook, the first comprehensive global assessment of the links between urbanization, biodiversity, and ecosystems. He has also served as a contributing author for the chapter on Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Spatial Planning in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. Since 2014, he is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Michael Bishop: michael.bishop@tamu.edu


March 8, 2018
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm