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Urban ecology and urban ecosystems: understanding the links to

human health and well-being

Ian Douglas
The ecology of cities assesses the health and well-being
benets of urban greenspace, vegetated areas and water
bodies. Ecology in cities examines how the characteristics of
the urban landscape mosaic, and various parts of it, affect
human health and well-being. Human consumption and
behaviour in one urban area can affect the health and well-
being of people in other, such as through export of waste and
trans-boundary emissions and pollutant ows. Environmental,
economic, technological, social and individual risk factors and
impacts affect urban populations at four urban ecosystem
scales: patches within the urban mosaic, built-up areas, urban
regions and the global scale. Increasing urban built-up area
sizes lead to more severe heat island effects, particularly for
people with inadequate cooling living in buildings that retain
heat. Urban people benet in varied ways from everyday
contact with nature, but some urban greeenspaces create both
health benets and health hazards. Cultural or social contrasts
in responses to urban nature and greenspaces vary. Despite a
general consensus that a healthy urban ecosystem can
improve human health and well-being, a large part of the global
urban population in low latitude, low income cities, the poorest
urban dwellers are likely to suffer from contact with many
aspects of nature.
School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester,
Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Corresponding author: Douglas, Ian (
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392
This review comes from a themed issue on Human settlements and
industrial systems
Edited by Heinz Schandl and Anthony Capon
For a complete overview see the Issue and the Editorial
Received 18 April 2012; Accepted 31 July 2012
Available online 30th August 2012
1877-3435/$ see front matter, # 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights
The urban areas that are now the habitat of more than half
of humankind combine buildings, a variety of infrastruc-
ture, water bodies, both natural and articial, and vege-
tated and derelict areas to create opportunities for a great
number of organisms of all types and sizes. The combi-
nations of species within a single square kilometre of a
city can be extremely varied, making urban areas fasci-
nating for the study of biodiversity [1

]. From this point of

view we can discuss the ecology of cities the overall
characteristics of organismenvironment relationships in
a diverse landscape. However, most work on urban
ecology so far has concentrated on ecology in cities


]. Urban ecology is an evolving discipline integrat-

ing both basic and applied natural and social science
research in to urban ecosystems [4


]. Since 1970 it
has responded to the environmental impacts of rapid
urban growth on human health and well-being [4

]. After
1995 it began to move away from empirical studies of
patterns in urban ecosystems towards understanding how
multiple physical, social and biotic components interact
to form urban ecosystems and to become highly involved
in urban planning and management [6

The ecology in cities interpretation examines how human
contact with specic urban green areas, such as sports
grounds or remnant woodlands, affects human health

]. The ecology of cities approach investigates the overall

urban biophysical environment and how it affects human
health, from the urban heat island, with its excess deaths
during heat waves [8], or the distribution of ne particles
) and their impact asthma [9], to the habitats of
disease vectors, such as those associated with malaria and
dengue fever [10]. The latter overlaps with the human
ecology invoked by medical specialists concerned with
howurban environmental changes, within or outside build-
ings, affect human health, from the disruption of co-
evolved mutualism between humans and human micro-
biota, which contributes to the increasing prevalence of
chronic and degenerative disease in industrialized
countries [11], to the way habitats for disease carrying bats
have altered as buildings have developed [12]. An enquiry
fromthe ecology of cities could examine the health issues
arising from environmental and social risks attached to
human behaviour, such as those associated with trafc
conditions and sexually transmitted diseases. It could
consider how land uses and human activities in one part
of a city may impose unhealthy conditions on neighbouring
areas, creating the environmental injustice often associated
with some industrial pollution. Thus there are two funda-
mental approaches to understanding the links between
urban ecology and urban ecosystems and humanhealth and
well-being. One essentially assesses the health and well-
being benets of urban greenspace, vegetated areas and
water bodies, the other examines how the characteristics of
the urban landscape mosaic, and various parts of it, affect
human health and well-being.
A further level of understanding of urban ecosystems
and human health and well-being examines how human
Available online at Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392
consumption and behaviour in one urban area can affect
the health and well-being of people in another. This can
be considered a form of transboundary environmental
trade [13

] that transfers adverse impacts and their related

costs from one jurisdiction, whether municipal on
national, to another. Such a situation is exemplied by
the concentration of health problems associated with the
dismantling of, and resource recovery from imported e-
waste in the town of Guiyu in Guangdong Province,
China [14].
Clearly, urban ecosystems can be described at
many scales [15

]. Four of the more generally used

[16] are:
(1) Patches within the complex urban mosaic of habitats,
for example garden lawns; urban stream channels or
fragments of contaminated land, all elements of the
urban green infrastructure. Such matches vary in size
from ower pots and window boxes to major urban
parks, such as Central Park in New York or the Bois
de Boulogne in Paris.
(2) The built-up areas are the habitat of urban people,
their pets, their garden plants, the adapted animals
and organisms (birds, moulds, among others) and the
pests (rats, weeds, parasites, among others). These
areas depend on outside (external) support through
inputs of energy, water and materials inputs for their
(3) The immediate urban life-support system of the
urban areas and its surroundings (the peri-urban
area) providing such ecosystem services as water
supplies, sand and gravel, landll sites, recreation
areas, water shed protection, greenhouse gas uptake
and biodiversity.
(4) Areas affected by the consumption and emissions of
urban areas, with a global outreach in terms of food
and materials production and impacts of emissions
and wastes, which includes impacts on the oceans,
such as the gyre containing fragmented plastic in the
Pacic Ocean [17

Some commentators on the impacts of urbanization dis-
cuss them at the national scale, but in environmental
reality, the diversity of size of nation states, from city
states and small island states like Singapore and Kiribati,
to subcontinental sized countries like Russia, China,
Brazil and India makes this somewhat inappropriate.
That is not to deny the very real role that national policies
and administrative systems play in urban development
and environmental management. For example, the uni-
ed governments of Chinese municipalities like
Chongqing [18

], Shanghai and Beijing, which adminis-

ter much rural land, will have different effects from the
multitude of local government areas within many metro-
politan areas of the USA, such as Greater Los Angeles

In terms of understanding the links between urban
ecology and urban ecosystems and human health, this
paper concentrates on the rst two scales, those of the
green infrastructure mosaic and the built-up areas as a
human habitat. The latter implies considering the city as
a public health realm. This involves exploring whether
cities or rural areas are healthier places in which to live. It
also examines the risks to health and well-being that
occur in the diverse built-up areas and communities
found within the great cities of the modern world. The
former involves the exploration of the role of urban
greenspaces, nature, plants and wildlife in human health
and well-being in cities.
Urban ecosystems as public health realms
Human beings, like other organisms, are inuenced by
the selective action of the urban environment. Social
structure and interactions, physiology and health,
morphology (e.g. increased obesity), and even long-term
changes in genetics of human urban residents, may be
associated with urban living [20,4

]. The diversity of
conditions within built-up areas creates many risk factors
possibly affecting human health and well-being. The risk
factors include four interrelated sets of hazards [21]:
(1) Environmental risk factors including ambient air
quality, ambient noise levels, soil and water con-
tamination, and solid waste disposal.
(2) Economic risk factors comprising the lack of afford-
able housing, food and water for poor households,
permanent unemployment and inequalities of access
to diverse kinds of resources and services including
affordable primary health care.
(3) Technological risk factors including trafc accidents,
industrial and chemical disasters, and contamination
from mass produced foods and synthetic products.
(4) Social and individual risk factors including crime,
violence and social exclusion, inadequate education
and training.
These factors apply across the scales of urban ecosystem
study (Table 1).
There are constant interactions between all the factors,
affecting both human and urban ecosystem health. Sus-
tainability requires a full awareness of both direct and
indirect human interventions affecting ecological pro-
cesses and ecosystem sates at all levels (Figure 1).
Different groups (e.g. children, ethnic communities, the
elderly and the employed) will have varying exposure to
these risks, but globally their effects are telling. In low-
income countries urban accident rates and pollution
levels are much higher than in more prosperous regions

]. Road trafc collisions are now the largest single

cause of unintentional injuries worldwide [23

]. Of the
total 59 million deaths in 2008, crashes accounted for over
386 Human settlements and industrial systems
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392
Urban ecology and urban ecosystems Douglas 387
Table 1
Multi-level ecosystem risk factors and impacts affecting urban populations.
Urban ecosystem scale Ecosystem components/drivers Socio-economic factors
Patches with the urban mosaic
(neighbourhoods and households)
Urban greenspaces (parks/gardens, derelict land) Social networks, social capital, segregation,
social support, population density, security,
access to health and social services,
wealth/poverty, violence, crime
Urban infrastructure: water supply, sanitation,
waste disposal, housing, noise
Disease vector habitats
Built-up areas (municipal level) Provisioning and regulating ecosystem services,
local (urban heat island) and regional climate,
soil and water contamination
Municipal government actions
Market conditions and employment
Technological risks, accidents
Civil society
Urban region (peri-urban and urban) Land use and land cover change, ecological impacts
of urban expansion, geophysical disasters (oods,
earthquakes, among others)
Security of local food supply, inuence of
regional and national government, land
ownership and access to land for food and
Global Climate change; inter-annual and seasonal climatic
variability, invasive species (disease vectors)
Threats to food supplies and costs, impact
of globalization, immigration and emigration;
market instability; resource competition
Figure 1
Human Health and
Urban Design
Planning and
Urban Ecosystem
processes and
releases to the
Urban ecosystem
services and urban
quality of life
Ecological Processes
Political, corporate and
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Simple diagram of key factors in the relationship between urban ecology and human health and well-being. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392
1.4 million (2%). This is more than tuberculosis and
almost 50% more than malaria, and over 60% of the
deaths by HIV/AIDS. The burden of road trafc injuries
on vulnerable road users differs substantially across
income levels. Some 228,000 pedestrians die in low-
income countries, as opposed to 162,000 in middle-
income countries and 23,000 in high-income countries
each year [24

]. Increased vehicle movements also add to

urban ill health, air pollution threatening many people,
especially children near highways, with chronic bronchitis
and asthma [24

]. The cost of health and mortality due to

urban air pollution in Mexico City is estimated at over 11
billion dollars. Bus drivers and trafc police are particu-
larly affected, all public bus drivers working in the State
of Morelos showing signs of upper respiratory tract infec-
tions [25].
Housing conditions are the classic concern of public
health ofcers. They still cause concern even in the most
prosperous cities. In New York asthma tends to be clus-
tered in public housing, 68.7% of public housing residents
reporting the presence of cockroaches, compared to 21%
of residents of private houses. The presence of cock-
roaches, rats, or water leaks was independently associated
with current asthma [26

]. Lack of rigorous control of the

cleanliness of the public spaces in multi-occupancy build-
ings that is a major hazard, rather than the convergence of
various social, economic, or behavioural risk factors often
associated with conditions in public housing.
The increasing size of cities is making their urban heat
islands more intense, with consequent greater risk of
excess deaths during heat waves. During the European
heat wave of 2003, about 40,000 deaths were registered in
Europe, mostly elderly people living in homes that are
difcult to cool. This dramatic episode marked a turning
point in planning for urban heat waves, most cities in
Europe subsequently developing the heat wave strategies
they previously lacked [27

]. Heat wave impacts vary

across urban areas, some social groups suffering more
than others. In Phoenix, Arizona, USA, afuent whites
were more likely to live in vegetated and less climatically
stressed neighbourhoods than low-income Latinos. Weal-
thier neighbourhoods had cooler summer temperatures
that reduced exposure to outdoor heat-related health
risks, especially during heat waves. In addition to being
warmer, poorer neighbourhoods lacked critical resources
in their physical and social environments to help them
cope with extreme heat [28

]. In Europe the effects of

deprivation on heat wave impacts is less clear [29

]. While
social isolation and little mobility are key risk factors
during heat waves, no access to an air-conditioned
environment, living in homes that retain heat or on the
upper oors of high rise buildings are also important
factors. Elderly people in hospital and residential homes
are at increased risk because of their frailty and therefore
need particular attention from carers [29

Health benets of the urban green
infrastructure: patch scale urban ecosystems
Urban green infrastructure comprises managed and
natural green areas such as remnant woodlands; gardens;
formal parks; green corridors such as bridleways, railway
and road verges and cycle paths; golf courses; sports
grounds; street trees; green roofs; waterways and lakes
with surrounding vegetation; and derelict land with inva-
sive plants, both privately and publicly owned. Since 2000
much has been done by local and regional governments to
map the green infrastructure of their areas and consider its
roles in adaptation to climate and delivering ecosystem
services including health benets [30


In 2005 evidence [32] suggested that living in areas with
walkable green spaces, as opposed to living in areas
without walkable green spaces, was associated with
greater likelihood of physical activity [33], higher func-
tional status, lower cardiovascular disease risk [34], and
longevity among the elderly, independent of personal
characteristics [35]. More multidisciplinary work on urban
health since then has begun to clarify the role of green
space and urban planning in promoting health. The
scientic evidence broadly conrms that there are
positive benets to be gained from both active and
passive involvement with natural areas in towns and cities

]. Although the evidence base is not complete, urban

inhabitants benet to a considerable degree, and in a
variety of ways, from having everyday contact with
nature. Everyday exposure to nearby nature is associated
with improved psychological health and functioning and
increased community health of urban dwellers [37

Living in environments with vegetation and greenspace
may reduce incivilities, aggression and violence [37

gun assaults, vandalism and criminal mischief being low-
ered after urban greening in Philadelphia [38].
Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural
environments is associated with greater feelings of revi-
talization and positive engagement, decreases in tension,
confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy

]. Vacant lot greening in Philadelphia led to resi-

dents reporting signicantly less stress and more exercise
[38]. Green settings in neighbourhoods are associated
with greater social cohesion among neighbours. The
presence of trees and grass in neighbourhood spaces
increases the use of those spaces and the number of
individuals involved in social interactions within them,
so contributing to the social cohesion and vitality of a
neighbourhood [37

Green patches in urban areas have multiple values, being
multifunctional greenspaces providing a range of ecosys-
tems services. People may see them as having a specic
purpose, such as a sensory garden or a golf course, but
they all provide, to varying degrees, such ecosystem
services as biodiversity, local climate modication, and
388 Human settlements and industrial systems
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392
sustainable drainage. This multifunctionality turns such
parks and other open spaces into hubs of community
activity [40

]. Now a new emerging transdisciplinary eld

of active community environment studies combines the
dual foci of urban planning and public health to investi-
gate the relationship between the urban environment and
physical activity using a social-ecological approach [41

Many governments are actively promoting urban green
infrastructure, emphasising its health benets [42,43,44

Nevertheless, despite the apparent benets, there is great
variability in the use of urban greenspaces by individuals.
Some depends on the character of the open space. For
some people shrubbery or woodland is unsafe and unat-
tractive, for other it is a place of adventure to explore [36].
Social connections are important for gaining health
benets, especially having friends who encourage exer-
cise, and having at least one friend with whom to explore
greenspaces [45]. Neighbourhood characteristics, in-
cluding the presence of footpaths (sidewalks), enjoyable
scenery, hills, and water spaces may be positively associ-
ated with physical activity [46

Negative impacts on mental and physical health can be
associated with urban nature, especially in informal
settlements (slums) in low income megacities. In slums
in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the few green areas are low-lying
and regularly ooded. Combined with poor sanitation,
open waste water drainage and garbage disposal, such
vegetation patches increase the risk for infectious dis-
eases (e.g. diarrhoea) [47]. In this instance urban nature
provides environmental disservices [48

] rather than ser-

vices, creating a negative association of urban nature with
mental well-being.
Particular ill-drained patches of low-income cities make
malaria a continuing problem in many African and Asian
urban areas. In Ouagadougou, malaria risk was higher in
informal settlements, where homes are constructed of
locally made bricks, whose ooded clay pits become
breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and where urban agri-
culture areas are also associated with a higher risk of
malaria transmission [49]. However, in Dakar, as urban-
ization increased, the proportion of the population at high
risk of malaria decreased, even though risk remained high
around wetlands and areas of urban agriculture [50].
Patches of particular ecological conditions favouring
the breeding of vectors are clearly highly signicant.
Some urban greenspaces create both health benets and
health hazards. Both the gardening and allotment cultiva-
tion of European cities and the vegetable gardens of the
poor on oodplains and vacant land in African cities
provide health benets, better diets, social interaction
and often a means of earning extra income and perhaps
escaping from the cycle of poverty [51


]. However,
many poor urban farmers use sewage wastes to fertilizer
their crops. From Zimbabwe, Ghana and Kenya to the
Philippines and Vietnam [53



] examples of
severe health risks are well-documented. Use of urban
greenspace has its risks.
Attitudes and responses to urban nature and greenspaces
vary. Seeing nature through a window can have great
benets for human health and well-being, but not for
every one. Positive benets from being able the see trees
and green landscapes have been found in studies of
prisoners and hospital patients [56

]. Schools with greater

potential for viewing nearby nature, especially from the
cafeteria window, had superior student performance
(after controlling for socioeconomic variables) [57]. In
the work context, employees with nature views reported
fewer ailments, greater patience, and higher job satisfac-
tion [58

]. However, such benecial gains from a view of

nature from home or ofce are not valued in Hong Kong
where people showed an aversion towards mountain
views [58

]. Hong Kong residents seem to relish an

inward-looking perception of the environment and mani-
fest the preference for a cloistered domestic existence.
Possibly, long-term exposure to an inordinately high-rise,
high-density living, avoidance of daily contacts with
nature, may have somewhat stied peoples innate desire
to be close to nature [58

]. A negligible interest in or
afnity for nature among young Singaporeans was also
attributed to growing up in a dense high-rise urban
environment, but also to over-protective parents and
an abundance of other recreational and entertainment
options [59]. It would be dangerous to assume that all
Hong Kong or Singapore residents share these attitudes,
just as in Philadelphia, it is likely that cultural or social
norms related to residents experience with greenspace
nature will differ according to the location within the city,
family circumstances and social and economic opportu-
nities. Natures potential for providing a more satisfying
existence may be less apparent among the poor and urban
than the rich and rural [60

], but that should be seen as a

challenge to society to provide more opportunities to
become familiar with nature in the inner city.
Despite a general convergence in the literature that good
quality urban greenspace and a healthy urban ecosystem
can improve human health and well-being, the reality is
that with a large part of the global urban population in low
latitude, low income cities, the poorest urban residents
are likely to suffer from contact with many aspects of
nature. Degradation of vegetated patches and water
bodies among slums, within and adjacent to urban areas
will continue to be a problem for future generations until
a real push is made to supply safe water and sanitation for
Despite the growth of transdisciplinary research on urban
ecosystems and an outstanding growth of concern about
Urban ecology and urban ecosystems Douglas 389 Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392
the urban environment since 1990, the case is still being
made for more research on the roles of environmental
factors in public health in order to resolve theoretical and
methodological issues before any relevant policy inter-
ventions can be formulated. These theoretical and meth-
odological issues relate to the environmental processes
that affect health; hypotheses to explain how environ-
mental factors inuence health; the causal relationships
between environmental factors and health; testing of
residual confounding variables; longitudinal studies and
scales relevant to particular health outcomes [61

]. In
view of the urgency of improving the health of slum
populations, curtailing malaria, cholera, HIV-Aids, and
related disease risks and improving human well-being,
that research will have to be accelerated. The simple task
of reducing trafc accidents still seems to be beyond
society in nearly all countries. The slightly more proble-
matic issue of avoiding chemical contamination of our
environment could be dealt with if monitoring of emis-
sions and dumping was improved; if law enforcement was
more effective; if both individual operatives and man-
agers took greater care; and if corporations exercised
greater moral responsibility for the impacts of their oper-
ations on their neighbours and on the human environ-
ment more generally. The health risks associated the
ever-increasing array of chemical compounds being
invented and inadvertently released in to the urban
environment will remain difcult until detection methods
and monitoring systems are able to keep pace with that
inventiveness and commercial production. While many
health risks associated with industrial systems have been
greatly reduced, for many people and many cities, the old
problems linger on and new ones arrive apace. This
situation will continue to handicap our efforts to make
both cities more sustainable and urban living tolerable for
all, rather than just for the wealthier minority of the
worlds urban population.
References and recommended reading
Papers of particular interest, published within the period of review,
have been highlighted as:
of special interest
of outstanding interest

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human socioeconomic status and cultural characteristics on
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Alberti M: Advances in Urban Ecology: Integrating Humans

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An excellent attempt at the synthesis of ecological, planning and social
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A valuable summary of ideas in a well worthwhile book.

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390 Human settlements and industrial systems
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392
Compares local government re-organization in two North American
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Summarises a great deal of the relevant literature.

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Harlan SL, Brazel AJ, Jenerette GD, Jones NS, Larsen L,

Prashad L, Stefanov WL: In the shade of afuence: the
inequitable distribution of the urban heat island. In Equity and
the Environment (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy),
vol 15. Edited by Wilkinson RC, Freudenburg WR. Emerald Group
Publishing Limited; 2008:173-202.
Useful contribution to environmental justice.

Hajat S, OConnor M, Kosatsky T: Health effects of hot weather:

from awareness of risk factors to effective health protection.
Lancet 2010, 375:856-863.
Good review of the evidence base for the most commonly provided heat-
protection advice.

Weber T, Sloan A, Wolf J: Marylands green infrastructure

assessment: development of a comprehensive approach to
land conservation. Landsc Urban Plann 2006, 77:94-110.
Shows how green infrastructure data have been incorporated into major
planning activities in some counties and regional planning organizations
in Maryland.

Gill SE, Handley JF, Ennos AR, Pauleit S: Adapting cities for
climate change: the role of the green infrastructure. Built
Environ 2007, 33:115-133.
Signicant for the analysis of the green infrastructure and assessment of
the way it modies the urban climate.
32. Galea S, Vlahov D: Urban health; evidence, challenges, and
directions. Annu Rev Public Health 2005, 26:341-365.
33. Booth ML, Owen N, Bauman A, Clavisi O, Leslie E: Social-
cognitive and perceived environment inuences associated
with physical activity in older Australians. Prev Med 2000,
34. Latkin CA, Curry AD: Stressful neighborhoods and depression:
a prospective study of the impact of neighborhood disorder.
J Health Soc Behav 2003, 4:34-44.
35. Takano T, Nakamura K, Watanabe M: Urban residential
environments and senior citizens longevity in megacity areas:
the importance of walkable greenspaces. J Epidemiol
Community Health 2002, 56:913-918.

Douglas I: Psychological and mental health benets from

nature and urban greenspace. In Statins and Greenspaces
Health and the Urban Environment. Edited by Dawe G, Millward A.
Manchester, UK: MAB Urban Forum; 2008:12-22.
Critically examines the evidence for the health benets of urban green-

Matsuoka R, Sullivan W: Urban nature: human psychological

and community health. In Routledge Handbook of Urban
Ecology. Edited by Douglas I, Goode D, Houck M, Wang R.
London: Routledge; 2011:408-423.
Thorough assessment of the human benets of urban nature contacts,
including reduction of incivilities, aggression and violence, with a com-
prehensive assessment of the relevant literature.
38. Branas CC, Cheney RA, MacDonald JM, Tam VW, Jackson TD,
Ten Have TR: A difference-in-differences analysis of health,
safety, and greening vacant urban space. AmJ Epidemiol 2011,

Coon JT, Boddy K, Stein K, Whear R, Barton J, Depledge MH:

Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural
environments have a greater effect on physical and mental
wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review.
Environ Sci Technol 2011, 45:1761-1772.
An important review with good bibliography.

Burls A: Creative use of therapeutic greenspaces. In Routledge

Handbook of Urban Ecology. Edited by Douglas I, Goode D, Houck
M, Wang R. London: Routledge; 2011:589-598.
Good introduction to therapeutic uses of greenspace and their value in
community building.

Tilt JH: Urban nature and human physical health. In Routledge

Handbook of Urban Ecology. Edited by Douglas I, Goode D, Houck
M, Wang R. London: Routledge; 2011:394-407.
A thorough review with good case data.
42. Land Use Consultants: Making the Links: Greenspace and Quality
of Life. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 060;
2004 (ROAME No. F03AB01).
43. Landscape Institute 2011: Local Green Infrastructure. London:
Landscape Institute; 2011.

Holzinger O: Thevalueof greeninfrastructure inBirminghamand

the black country: the total economic value of ecosystem
services provided by the Urban Green Infrastructure. Study
prepared for the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black
Country. CEEP, Birmingham. Online accessible at
Thorough example of how to calculate the economic value of the recrea-
tional and health benets of urban greenspace use.
45. Brownson RC, Baker EA, Housemann RA, Brennan LK, Bacak SJ:
Environmental and policy determinants of physical activity in
the United States. Am J Public Health 2001, 91:1995-2003.

Gruebner O, Khan MMH, Lautenbach S, Muller D, Kramer A,

Lakes T, Hostert P: Mental health in the slums of Dhaka a
geo-epidemiological study. BMC Public Health 2012, 12:177
A detailed multi-variate analysis of urban ecosystem impacts on mental
health among the urban poor.
47. Lyytimaki J, Sipila M: Hopping on one leg the challenge of
ecosystem disservices for urban green management. Urban
Urban Green 2009, 8:309-315.

Lyytima ki J, Petersen LK, Normander B, Beza k P: Nature as a

nuisance? Ecosystem services and disservices to urban life
style. Environ Serv 2009, 5:161-172.
Proposes the use of the termecosystemdisservices to deal with problems
for urban greenspace users, such as safety issues in dark parks or pollen
causing health problems, which in the past have gained only sporadic
attention in environmental studies focused on urban ecosystems.
49. Baragatti M, Fournet F, Henry M-C, Assi S, Ouedraogo H,
Rogier C, Salem G: Social and environmental malaria risk
factors in urban areas of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Malar J
2009, 8:13
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50. Machault V, Vignolles C, Page` s F, Gadiaga L, Gaye A, Sokhna C,
Trape J-F, Lacaux J-P, Rogier C: Spatial heterogeneity and
temporal evolution of malaria transmission risk in Dakar,
Senegal, according to remotely sensed environmental data.
Malar J 2010, 9:252

Perez-Vazquez A, Anderson S, Rogers AW: Assessing benets

from allotments as a component of urban agriculture in
England. In Agropolis: the Social, Political and Environmental
Dimensions of Urban Agriculture. Edited by Mougeot LJA.
London: Earthscan; 2005:239-266.
Excellent paper on health and social benets of allotments in England.

Mougeot LJA: Growing Better Cities: Urban Agriculture for

Sustainable Development. Ottawa: International Development
Research Centre; 2006.
A major contribution to urban agriculture outlining the human benets and
risks with a particular emphasis on the importance of urban farming for
nutrition and health in the poor sectors of cities in developing countries.

Coe O, Bradford AA, Dreschel P: Recycling of urban organic

waste for urban agriculture. In Cities Farming for the Future:
Urban Agriculture for Green and Productive Cities. Edited by
Veenhuizen RV. 2006:209-242.
Excellent reviewof practices and health problems associated with the use
of organic waste in African and Asian cities.

Muchuweti M, Birkett JW, Chinyanga E, Zvauya R, Scrimshaw M,

Lester JN: Heavy metal content of vegetables irrigated with
mixtures of wastewater and sewage sludge in Zimbabwe:
implications for human health. Agric Ecosyst Environ 2006,
A useful case study.

Trang DT, Mlbak K, Cam PD, Dalsgaard A: Helminth infections

among people using wastewater and human excreta in
peri-urban agriculture and aquaculture in Hanoi, Vietnam. Trop
Med Int Health 2007, 12(Suppl. 2):82-90.
Closely examines pathways of infection.

Kaplan R: Intrinsic and aesthetic values of urban nature: a

psychological perspective. In Routledge Handbook of Urban
Ecology. Edited by Douglas I, Goode D, Houck M, Wang R.
London: Routledge; 2011:385-393.
Thoughtful contribution by an acknowledged leader in the eld with a
good discussion of how to meet peoples perceived needs for urban
nature and attain other urban ecosystem services.
57. Matsuoka RH: Student performance and high landscapes:
examining the links. Landsc Urban Plann 2010, 97:273-282.

Jim CY, Chen WY: Value of scenic views: hedonic assessment

of private housing in Hong Kong. Landsc Urban Plann 2009,
Contains an excellent literature review and thought-provoking comments
on Hong Kong: shows that not every community values proximity to, or
views of, urban greenspace.
59. Elhorst P, Posterhaven J, Sijtsma F, Telder D: The construction
and experience of nature: perspectives of urban youths.
Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geograe 1999, 90:3-16.

Kellert SR: The biological basis for human values of nature. In

The Earthscan Reader in Environmental Values. Edited by Kalof L,
Sattereld T. London: Earthscan; 2005:131-149.
A stimulating assessment of a range of approaches to human attitudes to

Brulle RJ, Pellow DN: Environmental justice: human health and

environmental inequalities. Annu Rev Public Health 2006,
An important review linking urban health and environmental justice.
392 Human settlements and industrial systems
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2012, 4:385392