Biodiversity and landscape design in the city of Porto

Urban green structures are crucial landscape elements for the promotion and conservation of biodiversity in the ever growing urbanized areas. Landscape architects, architects, urban planners and managers should be able to develop integrated design approaches to promote green structures in the urban realm according to contemporary social needs and grounded on a deep understanding of urban ecosystems. Such approaches should create opportunities for humans, plants and animals, in shared public spaces with the least possible conflict. One way to meet such goals is through a well balanced design of the outdoor space, reflecting the development of a green matrix of multipurpose habitats and social facilities with significant aesthetic quality.

Therefore it is important to answer some questions such as: What is the relationship between the spatial character of the urban green structure and its biodiversity? How organization and design of the urban green structure influence the diversity of flora and fauna? Which spatial strategies and tools can be used by planners, designers and managers of the urban green structure to address the question of biodiversity within the city environment?

This project focuses on the city of Porto, the heart of a metropolitan area of nearly 2 million inhabitants. It is the second largest Portuguese city with a mild Atlantic climate, with several important natural habitats close to each other (river Douro and its mouth, seafront, rocky escarpments) and a variety man made habitats with different design character, sizes, locations, and connectivity (public green spaces, relic woodlands, beaches, abandoned farmlands, old gardens, derelict buildings, brownfields and ruderal sites). Its geographic, social and environmental context together with high diversity of situations in a relatively dense urban fabric makes Porto an ideal place for a detailed green structure research in a southern European scenario.

 

Projeto financiado pela Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia – FCT: PTDC/AUR-URB/104044/2008 e cofinanciado pelo COMPETE: FOMP-01-0124-FEDER008846

FCT COMPETE

 

Objectives

  • Link research on spatial design and urban biodiversity
  • Raise greater public awareness of biodiversity in urban areas
  • Promote interdisciplinary research into urban biodiversity for a better understanding of the interactions between humans, urban biodiversity and global biodiversity
  • Establish a connection mechanism between researchers, planners, policy makers and citizens to improve the integration of research findings into urban design
  • Promote education in urban biodiversity and design

 

Study Area

This project focuses on the city of Porto, the heart of a metropolitan area of nearly 2 million inhabitants. It is the second largest Portuguese city with a mild Atlantic climate, with several important natural habitats close to each other (river Douro and its mouth, seafront, rocky escarpments) and a variety man made habitats with different design character, sizes, locations, and connectivity (public green spaces, relic woodlands, beaches, abandoned farmlands, old gardens, derelict buildings, brownfields and ruderal sites). Its geographic, social and environmental context together with high diversity of situations in a relatively dense urban fabric makes Porto an ideal place for a detailed green structure research in a southern European scenario.

Urban greening survey will be carried in the city of Porto, Northwest Portugal. The administrative boundaries of the city enclose an area of more than 41 km2 and are surrounded by several suburban municipalities with large areas of intensive agricultural land. The study will be carried out in parks, gardens, highway intersections, river corridors, oceanic fronts, cliffs, etc.

 

Methods

Urban areas are traditionally considered as fully anthropogenic environments, concrete jungles without the natural green. Several plant and animal species thrive, however, even in the busy city centers not to mention parks, courtyards or urban forests. These areas support species specialized both in open and closed environments. All those involved in either design or maintenance of the urban green structure shall consider the questions of urban biodiversity and its protection. Research is needed to better understand: What kind of habitats can be found from the urban green areas? What is the relationship between the spatial character of the urban green structure and its biodiversity? How organization and design of the urban green structure influence the diversity of flora and fauna? Which spatial strategies and tools can be used by planners, designers and managers of the urban green structure to address the question of biodiversity within the city environment?

Three thematic research groups from different scientific background will be organized to survey the study area: landscape architects (landscape group),   botanists and vegetation ecologists (botany group), and zoologists (fauna group). The whole urban area of Porto will be covered by the each thematic group, in accordance to the results from the previous classification phase on Porto green structure.

Each group will acquire specific data in accordance to their needs. The landscape group will assess questions as spatial character, explicit design composition, human use and aesthetic quality; the botanists and the zoologists will be more focused on habitats and species diversity.

 

Research Team

Paulo Farinha Marques, the Main Researcher is an Associate Professor at the University of Porto where currently develops teaching and research in the landscape architecture field – landscape design, landscape planting, ecological park design, design and restoration of natural and manmade habitats and biodiversity promotion in historic landscapes.

Email: pfmarque@fc.up.pt

 

José Miguel Lameiras is an assistant lecturer at the University of Porto currently involved in teaching and researching in the field of landscape architecture. His main interests of research include landscape design, design theory, information technologies, GIS and ecology. He is curretly finishing a PhD within Landform design.

Email: jmlameiras@fc.up.pt

 

João Honrado is an Assistant Professor at the University of Porto where currently teaches and researches. He has been involved in a large number of research projects (both fundamental and applied) in the general field of Ecology. The main research focuses on Vegetation Ecology, with an emphasis on classification of vegetation, community assembly modelling, and vegetation dynamics associated to specific disturbance regimes.

Email:  jhonrado@fc.up.pt

 

Paulo Célio Alves is an Assistant Professor at the University of Porto where currently teaches and researches. His primary research interests are the conservation and molecular ecology of Mammals, especially lagomorphs and carnivores. Evaluating the level of fragmentation and/or connectivity among different populations. He is also studying the population dynamics and ecology of managed and threatened species.

Email:  pcalves@fc.up.pt

 

David Gonçalves is an Assistant Professor at the University of Porto where currently teaches and researches. He has been working mostly in the biology and ecology of game bird species (sedentary and migratory). He is interested in the use of ecological modelling techniques combined with geographic information systems for modelling bird population’s dynamics.

Email:  drgoncal@fc.up.pt

 

José Teixeira is a researcher at CIBIO, Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, his main research interests are the phylogeography, biogeography, landscape and conservation genetics of amphibians and reptiles. Currently he is doing a post-doc on the landscape and conservation genetics of several endemic amphibians and reptiles of the Iberian Peninsula.

Email:  jteixeira@mail.icav.up.pt

 

Raquel Ribeiro is a PhD student at CIBIO,Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, and her thesis is focused on urban ecology, namely the effects of land use change and habitat fragmentation on biodiversity (using amphibians and reptiles communities as models) in the metropolitan area of Porto. She is also interested in helping the establishment of the (missing) link between society and science throughout environmental education and science divulgation.

Email:  raquel.ribeiro@mail.icav.up.pt

 

Paulo Alves is a researcher of CIBIO in the field of Plant Ecology, Phytosociology, and Phytogeography. He has participated in several projects in the general field of Ecology as an expert field botanist and his major research interests include the study of patterns of distribution and richness of alien plant species, environmental monitoring and conservation of vascular plants.

Email:  paulo.alves@fc.up.pt

 

Cláudia Patrícia Fernandes is a Landscape Architect with a previous formation in Agricultural Engineering and Natural Resources Management. In her PhD studies she researched on the Structural Characterization of vegetation in Cultural Landscapes and Ecological Modeling of vegetation responses under disturbance scenarios. Her research interests also include Biodiversity Patterns in Urban Environments.

Email: cofernandes@fc.up.pt

 

Isabel Filipa Leal has a B.Sc. in Landscape Architecture, with a post-graduation degree in territorial planning legislation. She’s been working as a landscape designer with an emphasis in public landscape and mobility. She has a special interest in sustainable environments, sustainable architecture, historical grounds, photography and image processing. Her research interests include landscape design, landscape regeneration and cultural landscapes.

Email: isabel.leal@fc.up.pt

 

Sara Silva has a master degree in Landscape Architecture. Her master focused on the design of productive gardens for the urban landscape. In the last two years she has been working at CIBIO Research Center, under the research topics of spatial planning of the urban green infrastructure, landscape design and promoting biodiversity by design.

Email:  sara.silva@fc.up.pt

 

Filipa Guilherme is a biologist with special interest in fauna and the impacts of human activities on animal species. She has a degree in Environmental Biology and a M.Sc degree in Conservation Biology. In her M.Sc research, the effects of agricultural and pastoral practices on small mammal were assessed

Email:  filipa.guilherme@fc.up.pt

 

Research Project Curriculum

PUBLICATIONS

BOOKS

-Farinha-Marques, P., Fernandes, C., Lameiras, J. M., Silva, S., Leal, I., & Guilherme, F. (2011). Morfologia e Biodiversidade nos Espaços Verdes da Cidade do Porto. Livro 1 – Seleção das Áreas de Estudo. Porto: CIBIO – Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos. ISBN 978-989-97418-0-5. See book (in Portuguese)

-Farinha-Marques, P., Fernandes, C., Lameiras, J. M., Silva, S., Leal, I., & Guilherme, F. (2013). Morfologia e Biodiversidade nos Espaços Verdes da Cidade do Porto. Livro 1 – Seleção das Áreas de Estudo, 2ª Edição, revista e aumentada. Porto: CIBIO – Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos. ISBN 978-989-98732-2-3. See book (in Portuguese)

 

PUBLICATIONS IN PEER-REVIEWED INTERNATIONAL JOURNALS

-Farinha-Marques, P., Lameiras, J. M., Fernandes, C., Silva, S., & Guilherme, F. (2011). Urban Biodiversity: a review on current concepts and contributes to multidisciplinary approaches. Innovation – The European Journal of Social Science Research, 24(3), 247-271. See Article

 

PUBLICATIONS IN CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS

-Farinha-Marques, P., Lameiras, J. M., Fernandes, C., & Silva, S. (2011). The visual aesthetics of urban biodiversity: A trial study in three small parks in Porto, Portugal. In Dee, C., Gill, K., & Jorgensen, A.Ethics/Aesthetics – ECLAS Conference Abstracts (pp. 105-106). Sheffield: Sheffield University. See abstract

-Januário, F., Gaio, R., Guilherme, F., Fernandes, C., & Farinha-Marques, P. (2012). Abundância relativa das aves das ordens Columbiformes e Passeriformes nos espaços verdes da cidade do Porto. In Sousa, F., Grilo, L., Grilo, H., & Henriques-Rodrigues, L. XIX Jornadas de Classificação e Análise de Dados (JOCLAD2012). Livro de Resumos. Instituto Nacional de Estatística. ISBN 978-972-9473-60-9.

-Farinha-Marques, P. Lameiras, J. M., Fernandes, C., Silva, S., Guilherme, F., & Leal, I. (2012). Urban green space biodiversity in the city of Porto, Portugal. In Ignatieva, M. Green infrastructure: from global to local. Conference Proceedings (pp. 44-45). Saint-Petersburg: Polytechnic University Publishing House. ISBN 978-5-7422-3540-8.

 

POSTER PUBLICATIONS

-Farinha-Marques, P., Lameiras, J. M., Fernandes, C., Leal, I., Silva, S., & Guilherme, F. (2011, July). Urban Green Structure: Study of the relation between public space morphology and flora and fauna diversity in the city of Porto. Poster presented at the XVIII International Botanical Congress, Melbourne, Australia.

 

SCIENTIFIC TRAINING

CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS

2010, November 15 – Conference “Optimal monitoring of habitats and biodiversity across scales: Combining surveillance monitoring and model-based targeted monitoring towards an integrated framework for gap regions” (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Vairão).

2010, November 24 – Conference “SIMBioN: Sistema de Informação e Monitorização da Biodiversidade do Norte de Portugal” (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Vairão).

2011, June 7 – Workshop “Biodiversidade: Uma oportunidade para a qualidade de vida urbana” (Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa).

2011, November 23 – Conference “Biodiversidade em Ambiente Urbano” (Lisboa E-Nova, Lisboa).

 

SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS

2010, July 9 – First consultants’ meeting.

2011, November 11-13 – rip to London: visit to Camley Street Natural Park and London Wetland Center; meeting with Greenspace Information for Greater London (GIGL).

2012, January 25 . Second consultants’ meeting.