Login | Register |

Knowledge Base

Search and create Best Practices, Resources, and Peer Reviews

The « Emerging Parks » Dynamics: When Parks And Cities Become Partners


During the “Urban National Parks in Emerging Countries” (UNPEC) research program, funded by the ANR (the french National Research Agency), the Urban Protected Areas Network have worked in partnership with the national parks and the cities in Rio, Cape Town, Mumbai, Nairobi. We have identified three main types of park’s dynamics:

  • The traditional model of the « Fortress Conservation”;
  • The “Integrated Park” model (as the Urban National Parks of the Nordic Countries);
  • The “Emerging Park” model. The dynamics observed in the "Emerging parks" is a partnership between the park and the city, which aims to support each other for advancing UPA conservation and the development of the city. These partnerships have provided concrete solutions to solve some urban development issues (social and economic), while preserving the natural areas of the cities.
Problem, challenge or context: 

All urban natural areas are inserted on complex social, economic, spatial and political dynamics. In this context, the urban protected areas exemplify, more than any other protected area category, the constant tension between commitments for the biodiversity conservation and those for economic and social development. Actually, the dynamics in urban areas focus on the issues of social and economic development, on the one hand, and the emerging environmental issues (nature in the city, urban biodiversity conservation, water supply, energy efficiency, climate change adaptation, social management of biodiversity, etc.), on the other hand. In the context of growing economies, the process of conservation tends to be interpreted equivocally as an obstacle to the development. This is one of the main dilemmas in the public policies field. Because the pursuit of environmental sustainability of development is the greatest challenge for years to come, for all cities, and in particular for those in the Developing Countries, the overall challenge that this “solution” aspire to address is: How can we combine the development issues and the natural areas conservation in the cities? The dynamics observed in what I have called the "Emerging Parks" is becoming a partnership model for other cities and parks.

Specific elements of components: 

During the “Urban National Parks in Emerging Countries” research program, our work highlights the differences on the parks management, the perception of "nature" and the level of the integration between parks and cities. We have identified three main types of park’s dynamics. On the one hand, remains a traditional model of sanctuary park, as a sort of fortress conservation, “fighting” against the city to protect itself. It is managed as a protected area of what is considered the Wilderness, following the model of the first national parks where the human presence - except for recreation under control - was excluded. On the other hand, its opposite is the “Integrated Park” model, as the Urban National Parks in the Nordic Countries. This type of park is conceived as part of the city. And, between them, a sort of the transition model of urban protected areas is the “Emerging Park” model. These parks are working with the cities to collaborate together for both well being.

Key lessons learned: 

Although, in practice, the urban activities progressively surround the parks, and sometimes tend to stifle them, the solution seems to be that the city and the park build together a real project on "urban nature". This implies mutual recognition of ecological, social and economical services provided by the park to the city and, conversely, services that the city support can get back to the park (biodiversity conservation, urban control, social housing policy, etc.). Without collaboration among different stakeholders and governments, the equation has no solution.

Applying Win-Win Ecology Principles:

  • Improving ecosystems conservation and the quality of life in the city to build a “green & healthy city”, based on Win-Win ecology principles.
  • Developing ecological networks for linking the city and the natural areas, in which the showcase is the Park, as the BioNet project in Cape Town and The Carioca Ecological Mosaic in Rio.

The Parks become symbols of the Green Cities:

  • The Cape Floristic Region was declared a Natural World Heritage Site and the Table Mountain has been chosen one of the 7 New Natural Wonders of the World.
  • The Christ at the top of the Corcovado Hill was chosen as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World and the “Carioca landscape between mountains and sea” was declared a Cultural World Heritage Site.
  • The Table Mountain in the Table Mountain National Park and the Christ in the Tijuca National Park are the symbols of these protected sites as well as essential elements of the conservational mosaic of the cities.

Cities and parks partnerships:

  • In Rio de Janeiro, the city-park partnership was formalized through a Shared Management Agreement. The city and the park management skills have recently been supplemented by those of the Rio de Janeiro federal state. The city is in charge of the mantenance of the roads, the lighting and the waste management. The Rio Federal State takes care of the fire management and the security, while the National Park is responsible for the biodiversity conservation, the environmental education, the scientific research programs and the public access.

Contributing to economic and social development

  • Employment, training and Social Inclusion : Green jobs for ecosystem restoration (invasive species, reforestation, etc.) and for eco-tourism infrastructure: e.g. The Hoerikwaggo Trail (CCT) which inspired the Transcarioca Trail (Rio); the carriage of passengers to Corcovado Hill.
  • The social management of biodiversity: e.g. the Tijuca National Park Advisory Council (Rio).
Impacts and outcomes: 

It seems that we are moving to an « Urban Nature ». The “Emerging Park” dynamics bring the mutual benefits for the park and the city. The Emerging Park dynamics contribute to natural conservation, economic development, preservation of ecosystem goods and services and the improvement of local population’s quality of life. These parks are building a new model of an "integrated conservation" to human activities. On the park side, it is about developing a conservation model combined with the human activities, inside the urban reality (a model that could also expand to rural areas). On the city side, it is a question of integrating the park as a major element of its landscape structure (in the morphological and ecological senses), as a provider of ecosystem services and an icon of the Green City. These parks emerge with the cities because they expect to associate conservation objectives with human development. Cape Town, with Table Mountain National Park and BioNet project, and Rio, with Tijuca National Park and Carioca Ecological Mosaic, are a kind of real scale model of this type of park.

These parks are a mirror for a lot of parks and cities. Now it’s time for them to convey their experience to others. To share experiences and to develop new projects I would suggest establishing partnership with pioneering parks and cities within the framework of the UPA Network and the IUCN WCPA.

Contact details: 
Louise Lézy-Bruno, UPA Network - Libertas Institute for Applied Research
56 users have voted.