​​Novel Urban Ecosystems: New Nature(s) for the Anthropocene by Dr. Jack Francis Ahern

The LDEM Department hosted Dr. Jack Francis Ahern who delivered a presentation entitled ‘Novel Urban Ecosystems: New Nature(s) for the Anthropocene’, on May 3, 2018.

About the Lecture:

The world is now predominantly urban and will become increasingly so until mid-century when global population is expected to stabilize at around 70% urban.  We are living in the “Century of the City”. We have also entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene, in which the impacts and artifacts of humans are recognized as a geologic force – on a global scale. In the Anthropocene, with an urban population, the battle for sustainability will be won or lost in cities – and novel urban ecosystems will play a fundamental role. T​his new urban reality challenges a re-thinking about what nature is, or what it can be, in cities. A typology of 21st century “novel” urban nature is proposed here as the basis for a “novel urban ecosystem strategy” to guide urban landscape design and to provide essential ecosystem services. This strategy is informed by landscape and urban ecology. These new ideas about urban nature challenge conventional ideas and practices of urban landscape design and aesthetics – and “set the stage” for novel urban ecosystems to evolve and adapt in the age of the Anthropocene.

About Dr. Ahern:

Jack Ahern is a professor of landscape architecture and urban planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  His research and teaching focuses on the application of urban landscape ecology theory in cities to provide ecosystem services and build resilience capacity. His recent publications advance theory on applied urban ecology, supported by case studies and precedents from professional practices in the US, Europe and Asia. Dr. Ahern is currently focusing on new theories of “novel urban ecosystems” to better understand how “new nature” in contemporary cities can be understood, classified, designed and managed for beauty and ecological functions. Dr. Ahern consults on native plant community establishment and management for leading design firms – integrating his horticultural, design and ecological knowledge in the cause of making memorable landscapes.