Biocultural Diversities

Ecologies of Forgotten Urban Ecosystems

Abandoned Helensburgh Railway Station and Tunnel near Sydney, image by Nick Fox via Shutterstock. ID- 615482708.

Across several disciplines, lively discussions are taking place about cities as multi-species environments. From modern conceptions of cities as ‘unnatural’ environments, there has been growing interest in cities as habitats for plants and animals as well as humans. The challenge posed by this research is not only conceptual, it is also political. How should the planning, development, maintenance and use of cities shift, based on recognition that many species call them home?

The project is a collaboration between an urban geographer (Geosciences) and an urban ecologist (School of Life and Environmental Sciences) that will document and analyse the role of historical urban infrastructure spaces as urban ecological biotopes. These infrastructures have performed a vital role as urban animal and plant habitats, quite by accident. In this project, we ask: what can the political ecology of historical urban infrastructures teach us about planning multi-species cities?

Focusing on active and abandoned railway corridors, and water storage and distribution infrastructures, this project will: document the animal and plant species that have found home in the city thanks to the fencing of these infrastructures; analyse the implications of these ecologies for the planning and management of existing and future urban infrastructure.