Polarised views of urban biodiversity and the role of socio-cultural valuation: Lessons from Cape Town

Sanna Stålhammar

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1 Citation (SciVal)


This study investigates values and narratives of urban biodiversity in the highly culturally and biologically diverse city Cape Town, South Africa. Local expressions of values of biodiversity are explored, in the context of the challenge of accounting for diverse values of biodiversity through a green infrastructure approach. Based on interviews with practitioners involved in green space and biodiversity management I investigate: i) narratives around challenges of different values of biodiversity and green space for management and planning, and ii) the perceived potential of assessments of social values of biodiversity and ES in practice. Highly polarised views of nature and biodiversity exist within management and planning of urban nature within the city. This study shows the complexity of including and integrating highly diverse and contrasting meanings of urban nature and biodiversity for citizens and stakeholders in management and planning based on an ES and GI approach. Potential value-conflicts arise when applying a green infrastructure approach in places with high biodiversity values, where management is based on a traditional conservation perspective. Socio-cultural valuation can be useful in green infrastructure planning, but needs to go beyond a consideration of current preferences, consider informal engagements, and recognise the potential of urban green for citizen building.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101239
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Social Sciences
  • Human Geography


  • Urban biodiversity
  • Socio-cultural valuation
  • Green infrastructure
  • Urban ecosystem services
  • Urban green space
  • Urban green space planning


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