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.