The Urban Ecology Journal
(Formerly The Urban Ecologist)

Urban Ecology’s unique perspective, which unites environmental health, social justice, and economic vibrancy, is the subject of articles and comment in every issue. Read by community activists, environmentalists, city planners, and elected officials throughout the world, Urban Ecology provides a venue for policy, ideas, and action about the natural, built, and inhabited urban environment.

Discover past articles below.




The Mysteries of Planning

The Mysteries of Planning

By Karen Kristiansson As a city planner, I hear of a lot of books that sound like well-written and insightful works on important urban issues, some reviewed on these very pages. I have found that no matter how hard I try, however, I cannot manage to read all of them....
City Front Shorts

City Front Shorts

Education not incarceration is the battle cry of a new campaign of the Black Radical Congress, a national coalition of progressive African Americans. At its June national organizing conference in Detroit, the two-year-old organization launched its first national...
Angola Project Wins Planning, Architecture Contest

Angola Project Wins Planning, Architecture Contest

An innovative urban redevelopment project in the Angolan capital of Luanda has won notice from the United Nations for improving the living environment for people in the long-troubled city. Launched in 1994, the Luanda Sul Self-Financed Urban Infrastructure Program...
Bangkok’s Motorcycle Taxis

Bangkok’s Motorcycle Taxis

They gather at the foot of every lane, ready to buzz residents and workers from the corner bus stop to their home or workplace. Bangkok’s motorcycle taxi drivers form a vital and affordable link in the city’s public transportation system. One or two baht...
Arizona Voters Face Growth Choices

Arizona Voters Face Growth Choices

Citizens for Growth Management, a coalition of activist organizations in Arizona, has put a statewide Citizens Growth Management Initiative on the November ballot in Arizona, sparking an intense political battle over the future of land use in the fast-growing and...
Malawi Graduates Turn Street People

Malawi Graduates Turn Street People

An education is supposed to be a ticket to a better life, but in Malawi, a lack of appropriate job opportunities has left university graduates begging on the street and — in some cases — resorting to prostitution. It’s also fueled antagonism between...
Global Urban Poverty Action Guide

Global Urban Poverty Action Guide

Asia Urbs Program 205, rue Belliard 1040 Brussels, Belgium secretariat@asia-urbs.com www.asia-urbs.com Institute of Social Sciences 8, Nelson Mandela Road New Delhi 110 070, India iss@nda.vsnl.net.in International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) oulevard du...
Fighting Urban Poverty Around the World

Fighting Urban Poverty Around the World

Rural poverty continues to claim greater attention from many development agencies, but national and international organizations, activists, and thinkers are starting to identify urban poverty as the bigger challenge at the dawn of a new century. Population trends do...
Voting for Our Cities – A Look Back at Gore

Voting for Our Cities – A Look Back at Gore

By James B. Goodno Not too long ago, cities figured prominently in national politics. As a result, presidential candidates offered urban programs as a matter of course, and public investment flowed into housing, community development, transportation, social welfare,...
Ecological Development in the U.S.

Ecological Development in the U.S.

Ecotown Begins Construction in Virginia Work began in May 1996 on the new ecological town of Haymount, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. Designed by the “new urbanist” firm of Duany & Plater-Zyberk, the community will feature 4,000 housing units in...
Car Sharing Takes Off in Europe

Car Sharing Takes Off in Europe

by Conrad Wagner and Richard Katzev Car sharing is becoming popular in Europe, especially in Switzerland and Germany. In Switzerland a car sharing company, Auto Teilet Genossenschaft (ATG), already has more than 6,000 members, while a similar organization in Germany,...
Habitat II Conference Tidbits

Habitat II Conference Tidbits

Participants at the Habitat II City Summit were snowed under by an avalanche of information describing urban development around the world. Following are a few tidbits and gleanings from the conference: The world’s urban population will rise from 1.54 billion in...
Curitiba: A Visit to an Ecological City

Curitiba: A Visit to an Ecological City

by Tim Alley Brazil is a country of many big cities, and most of them have their share of urban problems — poverty, overcrowding, sanitation. The city of Curitiba is an exception. In fact, Curitiba is known as “The Ecological Capital of Brazil.” I...
Ecological Development Around the World

Ecological Development Around the World

Germany Moves Toward an Eco-Economy Germany already leads the world in recycling, with its requirement that manufacturers take back their packaging and a system in which all items marked with a Green Dot are picked up by a recycling consortium paid for by business....
Signs of Hope: Bay Area Success Stories

Signs of Hope: Bay Area Success Stories

Edited by Stephen Wheeler Although the Bay Area is moving away from sustainability in many ways — in terms of automobile use, resource consumption, suburban sprawl, affordable housing and equity, for example — it is making progress in other areas....
Creating the Blueprint: A Participatory Process

Creating the Blueprint: A Participatory Process

by Wood Turner Urban Ecology’s Blueprint for a Sustainable Bay Area spells out the organization’s vision of how the San Francisco Bay Area can become a better place to live for all its residents. It is the result of a thoughtful and tireless process...
San Diego Canyons Mix Coyotes and House Cats

San Diego Canyons Mix Coyotes and House Cats

Kevin Crooks A century of intensive urban development has destroyed most of the native sage scrub and chaparral habitat in Southern California — helping to create one of the world’s largest epicenters of extinction. Indeed, San Diego has more threatened...
Restoring the Bronx Coastline

Restoring the Bronx Coastline

Paul Mankiewicz Today’s urban estuaries are lined with miles of linear bulkhead and seawall. But just a century ago, they had a highly varied coastline of beaches, marshes, rocky outcrops, bays, cliffs and creek mouths. Where could the immense amount of...
Saving Durban’s Medicinal Plants

Saving Durban’s Medicinal Plants

Rebecca Koffman Every day at the Durban Station Market, street vendors do a booming trade selling plant muti (medicine) to the thousands of commuters who pour into the city-center. In this port city, in South Africa’s Eastern Province of Kwazulu-Natal, over 700...
Wilderness in South Central Los Angeles?

Wilderness in South Central Los Angeles?

Randy Hester Despite its well-deserved bashing for being utterly car-dependent, water-irresponsible and unsustainable, Los Angeles has borne some valuable precedents for keeping and recreating nature in the city. The No Oil fight to save the Santa Monica Bay, the Los...
Cooling Our Cities

Cooling Our Cities

Lisa Gartland Scientific data show temperatures in cities all over the world, from Baltimore and Phoenix to Shanghai and Tokyo, are steadily increasing by one half to one degree Fahrenheit every ten years, and the primary cause isn’t global warming. Cities...
Ecological Development In The United States

Ecological Development In The United States

Santa Monica Sustainable Building Guidelines As part of its Sustainable City Program, adopted by the City Council in September 1994, Santa Monica is developing “Sustainable Building Development Guidelines” which may prove a useful model for other cities. A...
A Brief Reading List On Urban Sustainability

A Brief Reading List On Urban Sustainability

We are often asked by those new to the subject to recommend some initial readings on urban sustainability. Following is a brief listing of some recent works. Many of these books have been reviewed in past issues of The Urban Ecologist, and several are available...
Havana’s Self-Provision Gardens

Havana’s Self-Provision Gardens

By Angela Moskow Urban agriculture is actively promoted in Havana, Cuba as a means of addressing the acute food scarcity problems of the “Special Period in Peacetime,” which developed when Soviet aid and trade were drastically curtailed starting in 1989....
Combating Supermarket Flight In Los Angeles

Combating Supermarket Flight In Los Angeles

By Michelle Mascarenhas Over the past 30 years, supermarket chains in Los Angeles have closed older, less profitable urban stores to build bigger and more modern markets in the suburbs. This trend follows the out-migration of middle-class households from the city....
Green Building Materials

Green Building Materials

by Darrel Deboer Through the 1980’s, if one claimed to be an “environmentally-oriented” designer, people’s first reaction was to look up on the roof for the solar panels. The environmental impacts, toxicity, and origin of building materials were rarely...
Tunnels for Munich?

Tunnels for Munich?

by Ron Widenhoeft In Munich, one of Germany’s most attractive cities, political controversy rages over whether the Middle Ring Road needs three new tunnels. By putting heavily burdened segments of the highway underground, advocates promise to enhance safety on the...
Sustainable Development Around the World

Sustainable Development Around the World

Waterfront Park in Venice A 1,400-acre urban park is taking shape on the site of a landfill on the lagoon facing Venice, Italy. Parco San Guiliano will contain 13 activity centers featuring boating clubs, marinas, museums, an aquarium, a marine biology research...
Living in Metro Toronto

Living in Metro Toronto

by Monika Jaeggi Known for years as one of the most narrow-minded and uncosmopolitan of the British colonial cities, Toronto has become the most culturally diverse city in the world since the 1960s as a result of rapid immigration. International surveys also identify...
Regional Polarization and Tax Sharing

Regional Polarization and Tax Sharing

by Myron Orfield The forces of polarization — the push of concentrated poverty and the pull of concentrated resources — operate throughout metropolitan regions. Because the dynamics are regional, only a regional approach can change them. There is little that...
A Letter from the President

A Letter from the President

I thought I’d take this opportunity to report to you from the front lines of sustainable development. Since September 1996 I’ve been working with Van der Ryn Architects and the Ecological Design Institute, where we get many opportunities to plan and design...
Sustainable Development in the United States

Sustainable Development in the United States

Investment Firm Backs New Urbanism Columbus Realty Trust, one of the nation’s leading real estate investment firms, is backing “new urbanist”-style housing development. Stating that “Columbus is a proponent of ‘New Urbanism’,”...
Addressing Inequity at Barrio Logan

Addressing Inequity at Barrio Logan

by Michael Rios The public spaces of Barrio Logan, a low-income Latino neighborhood in San Diego, proclaim a unique Mexican and Chicano culture. The neighborhood faces the San Diego Bay towards Coronado Island and is thirteen miles from the Tijuana border. Physically...
Jobs and Environmental Stewardship in Taiwan

Jobs and Environmental Stewardship in Taiwan

by Randy Hester The waters of Tsengwen River and Chi Ku Lagoon along Taiwan’s southwest coast are the scene of a controversy that is increasingly familiar around the world. Taiwan’s President Lee Tung Hui and many land speculators support a 7000-acre development...
Sustainable Development Around the World

Sustainable Development Around the World

Clean Fuel Vehicles in Cairo To combat its dangerously high air pollution, Cairo is looking to convert its taxis, buses, and minibuses to compressed natural gas, which produces 86 percent less carbon monoxide and 83 percent fewer hydrocarbons than gasoline. Five...
Alleys and Backyard Housing

Alleys and Backyard Housing

By David Winslow Nestled among the back alleys of many existing neighborhoods is a large, fallow urban resource. Alleys and backyards, if reclaimed as sites for secondary dwellings, could sustain unobtrusive and affordable new housing with only modest increases in...
Including the Excluded: Supportive Housing

Including the Excluded: Supportive Housing

By Kate Bristol Consider these scenarios: a young man with a serious mental illness is ready to move from a group home to independent living in the community, but must find a housing unit he can afford on a $640 per month disability benefit. A women with two small...
The Urban Ecology Journal Back Issues

The Urban Ecology Journal Back Issues

Note: With this issue, we return to a seasonal designation. The first issue of each year will be called Spring, followed by Summer, Fall, and Winter. Visit our contact form to submit articles! Back Issues 2000 Spring — Designing for Transit and Community Tales...