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HomeCities and natural parks: building an urban nature?

Cities and natural parks: building an urban nature?

Villes et parcs naturels : construire une nature urbaine ?

International seminar BiodiverCities 2015

Colloque international BiodiverCities 2015

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Published on Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Le réseau UPA Network et le programme ANR UNPEC (Urban National Parks in Emerging Countries and Cities) proposent ce colloque en partenariat avec la Ville de Marseille et les parcs nationaux des Calanques et Port Cros. Les parcs naturels urbains offrent un exemple remarquable de la tension entre les engagements pour la conservation de la biodiversité et ceux du développement économique et social. Urbanisation et protection sont-ils antagonistes ou complémentaires ? La tension est particulièrement forte dans les parcs nationaux urbains, en raison des conflits d'échelles (besoins locaux de la ville vs. objectifs nationaux voire mondiaux de la conservation). Outre le support de communications scientifiques, cette problématique sera enrichie par les interventions de responsables des parcs nationaux français, et des parcs nationaux de Nairobi, Rio, le Cap et Mumbai.




BiodiverCities Paris 2010 : “Sustainable Management of Urban and Peri-urban Protected Areas in the global North and South”

BiodiverCities Rio de Janeiro 2012 : “Urban Protected Areas: issues, actors, spaces”

BiodiverCities Cape Town 2014 : “Rescaling Natural Parks and the City”… 

… UPA Network (upa-network.org) et the UNPEC  project (Urban National Parks in Emerging Countries and Cities) introduce the conference BiodiverCities Marseilles 2015 with the collaboration of the City of Marseilles and the national parks of Calanques and Port-Cros:

Natural (peri-)urban areas are an integral part of complex socio-economic, political and territorial dynamics that tend to exert pressure on environments to be protected (and on those managing such areas!). But these dynamics also offer several opportunities that are beneficial for conservation. Hence, urban natural parks provide a remarkable example of the permanent tension between the commitments made for the preservation of biodiversity and those for economic and social development. Parks may be under threat from the growing needs of cities (for example, through overcrowding by visitors, which would need to be nuanced and put into perspective, depending on the contexts) or because of urban nuisance (pollution); in the same way, cities may covet these protected areas for multiple reasons, whether for real estate or others. However, a more positive view highlights the reciprocal benefits the two gain: cities can provide parks with technical support (waste management, fire-fighting and security), funding and visibility, whereas parks generate ecosystem services of all kinds, not just ecological, but also social and economic.

Hence, cities emerge as a favourable theatre for the observation of new dynamics, as social and economic development issues are concentrated here, while major development and research related issues in the environmental field are also crystallized here: nature in the city, landscape ecology, integrated water management, energy efficiency, adaptation to climate change, social management of biodiversity, environmental education, etc.

Efforts to view parks and their surroundings together seem to be emerging, both in the academic sphere and in management practices, on both sides of the borders of protected areas. These approaches need to be questioned, as they are sometimes proffered as solutions. Can better coordination be enabled, generating margins of manoeuvre thanks to changes in scale and better integration in the surrounding space? Attempts to think of urban and protected areas together through the prism of notions such as corridors, matrices or grids in order to promote the complexity of ecosystems and their interactions, would therefore be evoked. The same holds true for approaches aimed at developing the notion of “partnership areas” (zones d’adhésion, negotiated buffer zones) and other transition areas between parks and cities. The symposium’s general objective is to promote the exchange of national or international experiences and possible adaptations of models. 

While there is tension between the conservation of biodiversity and local development in all protected natural areas, it is nonetheless stronger in national parks given their degree of protection and even stronger in the case of urban national parks. And it is further exacerbated in emerging, BRICS-like countries due, in particular, to social gaps and the sometimes brutal processes characterising them – as testified by the four national parks studied by the UNPEC project: Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi and Mumbai (Bombay). Three of these parks are coastal parks. The Cape Town national park is characterised by its Mediterranean environment. All these are the reasons why the UNPEC programme chose to hold the BiodiverCities 2015 event in Marseilles for its closing symposium – it is near the only French national park that is both urban and marine (the Calanques) and that of Port-Cros, which is in the process of building its “partnership zone” (aire optimale d’adhésion) through a charter with the coastal Var localities.

The BiodiverCities symposium cycle is aimed at pooling approaches, studies and experiences underway, as well as comparisons between protected areas. BiodiverCities 2015 shall offer a variety of contrasting perspectives: France/emerging economies, global North/global South, national parks/other protected natural areas… in addition to the pooling of experiences between the “Mediterranean” parks of the Calanques, Port-Cros and Cape Town.


  • Exchanging experiences in the field of the management of national parks in urban and peri-urban areas, or those strongly influenced by urban uses (tourism, industry, etc.).
  • Presenting the research underway on the interactions between conservation/development, societies/nature and cities/natural areas.
  • Ensuring the development of cooperation between protected area managers, possibly in collaboration with research teams.


  • Borders, flows and connectivities: Despite the often clearly demarcated borders of natural parks, multiple flows cross through them (wildlife, invasive species, water, products, people, etc.), marking a deep-seated interdependence with their urban environment. Attempts are sometimes made to contain these flows, in order to protect the “natural” identity of protected areas as far as possible – e.g. the endemism of their biodiversity – from external influences, especially urban. Conversely, the current connectivity-based reasoning and the establishment of ecological corridors are forcing protected areas out of their restricted definition, making them “come out” of their initially established demarcation in order to get integrated into broader ecological and territorial perspectives. These new dynamics need to be seen over the long term: the relations of parks with their natural and social environment shall therefore be re-placed in a historical perspective, as this will contribute to the understanding of current situations and specificities. Timescale differences between ecological and socio-economic processes must be addressed for designing sustainable policies.
  • Uses and users, restrictions and access to “nature” and to the city: Between regulations and management practices on the one hand, and the demands and behaviour of users or local residents on the other, what are the agreements, complementarities and services rendered? Do the relations between protected areas and urban logic necessarily translate into conflicts of different kinds? Parks in countries of the South or emerging countries are marked by very different representations of “nature”, between the westernised environmental sensitivities of affluent population groups and the more utilitarian perspectives of the poor, often seeking firewood or game. But parks in countries of the North also have their own divergent and far from reconcilable uses and representations. Hence, the diversity of such uses and views of these areas shall be questioned, along with the management issues related to these more or less easily shared zones.
  • Protection and scales of perspective: Between municipal parks and UNESCO World heritage sites, management levels can be extremely different and may sometimes even overlap. Hence, an urban “national” park has to meet country-level goals, without, however, evading the requirements of its local integration within an urban area. The interconnections between different levels of power (international, national, regional, local, etc.) shall be viewed from different perspectives, by examining how these multiple scales can rival each other while also being complementary. A city may use an internationally renowned park as a logo (Cape Town, Rio), while others are unable to do so: what is the city’s degree of integration and that of a park in today’s more or less “globalised” systems? The role of associations (from Big International NGOs – BINGOs – to local residents’ associations) may, in particular, be called into question here.
  • Building “urban nature”: If conservation goals may tolerate “nature” being “urban”, how can it be built? The various biodiversity governance and management strategies in terms of city-park integration and collaboration, as well as the circulation of national and international models, shall be some of the topics broached in order to try and develop a general typology of urban natural parks in the world.


Location: Pharo Palace, Marseilles.

An international meet held in French and English, with simultaneous translation. An international call for papers was issued in December 2014.

Access is on payment.

250 persons expected. Representatives of the Cape Town, Nairobi, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro national parks shall be present, beside those of the Calanques and Port-Cros.

Parallel thematic workshops shall take place between the opening and concluding plenary sessions.

A roundtable with the representatives of the urban national parks is planned on the first day, as well as a workshop with the Urban Specialist Group of the IUCN World Commission of Protected Areas.

Field visit: 19 September, to the Calanques National Park (limited number, plan to be finalised).


  • International, national and local decision-makers
  • Natural park and city managers
  • Research scholars and representatives of the scientific community
  • Civil society
  • Representatives of Ministries and public sector
  • General public, students… 

Registration fees

(provisional! These amounts might be changed)

  • Normal : 70 € (including 2 lunches)
  • Ph.D scholars, students : free.
  • Field visit on Sep. 19 : 50 € (including lunch), subject to availability.

Registration to the meeting: http://www.linscription.com/BiodiverCities2015eng-1049

Registration to the field visit: http://www.linscription.com/BiodiverCities2015fieldtrip-1050

Time schedule and guidelines submission

  • Deadline for sending paper proposals (abstract of 4-5,000 signs, 5-10 key words): March 9, 2015.

  • Publication of the list of papers selected by the scientific committee: March 30, 2015.
  • Publication of the programme of the seminar : May 30, 2015.
  • Deadline for sending the papers (guidelines on their format shall be provided at the time of selection) : August 20, 2015.
  • Conference : September 17-18, 2015 (field visit on the 19th).

Organising Committee

  • Franck ALARY, Parc National de Port Cros
  • Carole BARTHELEMY, university of Aix-Marseille
  • Thierry BOTTI, Institut Pythéas
  • Louise BRUNO-LEZY, Institut Libertas
  • Anne CADORET, university of Aix-Marseille, UMR TELEMME
  • Rozenn COLLET, Théâtre du Centaure
  • Christel GEORGES, City of Marseilles
  • Arlette HERAT, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture-Marseille
  • Claude HOLYST director, Agence Régionale pour l’environnement
  • Frédéric LANDY, university of Paris Ouest-Nanterre
  • Glen HYMAN, Sciences Po-IUCN

Scientific Committee

  • Louise BRUNO-LEZY, Institut Libertas
  • Anne CADORET, university Aix-Marseille, UMR TELEMME
  • Samuel DEPRAZ, university of Lyon 3
  • Steve DERY, university Laval, Québec, Canada.
  • Véronique FOURAULT-CAUET, university of Paris Ouest-Nanterre
  • Yanni GUNNELL, university of Lyon 2
  • Arlette HERAT, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture-Marseille
  • Adrienne KEANE, Macquarie University, Sidney, Australia
  • Lionel LASLAZ, university of Savoie
  • Frédéric LANDY, university of Paris Ouest-Nanterre
  • Rafael SOARES GONÇALVES, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Thierry TATONI, university Paul Cézanne, Scientific Committee of the National Park of Calanques 


  • Louise BRUNO, Institut Libertas : louise.bruno@yahoo.fr
  • Anne CADORET, university of Aix-Marseille, UMR TELEMME : anne.cadoret@univ-amu.fr
  • Frédéric LANDY, coordinator, UNPEC project: landy@u-paris10.fr 


  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche
  • Agence Régionale pour l’Environnement PACA
  • Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CNRS-EHESS)
  • City of Marseilles
  • Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture-Marseille
  • Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (Brésil)
  • Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Ecologie marine et continentale
  • UICN
  • Laboratoire "Population Environnement Développement", IRD
  • LAVUE (UMR  7218)
  • Observatoire Hommes-Milieux "Littoral méditerranéen"
  • Parc National des Calanques
  • Parc National de Port Cros
  • Programme ANR UNPEC
  • TELEMME (UMR 7303)
  • Théâtre du Centaure
  • Université d’Aix-Marseille
  • Université de Lyon 2
  • Université de Lyon 3
  • Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense
  • Ville de Marseille


  • Palais du Pharo - 58, boulevard Charles Livon
    Marseille, France (13007)


  • Monday, March 09, 2015


  • Parc national urbain, conservation, environnement, ville, service écosystémique, biodiversité, pays émergent


  • Frédéric Landy
    courriel : landy [at] u-paris10 [dot] fr
  • Louise Bruno
    courriel : louise [dot] bruno [at] yahoo [dot] fr
  • Anne Cadoret
    courriel : anne [dot] cadoret [at] univ-amu [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Frédéric Landy
    courriel : landy [at] u-paris10 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Cities and natural parks: building an urban nature? », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, https://calenda.org/312203

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