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Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems: Principles and Practices Paperback – January 31, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1597261883 ISBN-10: 1597261882

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Perhaps just in time, Newman and Jennings provide us with all the theory and practice we need to salvage urban civilization. Their excellent book is now the best available guide to the reinvention of cities as sustainable regional ecosystems, human settlements that thrive on much-reduced eco-footprints."
(William E. Rees Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia)


"...the authors have written an excellent book on a subject of great interest and scope... the contents of this book will encourage readers to explore in greater detail the growing literature on urban ecology and urban sustainability, an end in itself that is a marvelous achievement."
(Ecological Restoration)


"Australian professor Peter Newman is credited with coining the term 'automobile independent' to describe the way most American and Australian cities were built in the last half of the 20th century."
(The Oregonian)


"Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems is a compendium of lists and theories that is a useful reference and for some potential guide to right living."
(Worldchanging)


"Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems advances an important idea about the relevance of systems thinking to design at the community and urban scale. Scaling up is a critical aspect to how we all need to be thinking; this book is an excellent guidepost."
(William McDonough William McDonough + Partners)

About the Author

Peter Newman is professor of city policy and director of the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. He recently completed a Fulbright scholarship, which he spent at the University of Virginia studying sustainability initiatives in the U.S. He is the author of Sustainability and Cities (Island Press, 1999).

Isabella Jennings is a graduate student in the School of Environmental Science at Murdoch University. Her past and current research is related to the cities as sustainable ecosystems idea.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press (January 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597261882
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597261883
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on January 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book comes across as presenting in-depth information on creating sustainability within cities by utilizing a systems approach. Instead, what it is is a long restatement of "the Ten Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities", a set of principles developed at a conference held in Melbourne, Australia. All of the principles are covered in the introduction. The authors then rehash them in ten chapters incorporating a lot of naivete along the way.

One theme that keeps recurring in the book is the idea that indigenous cultures are more aware than other cultures of the importance of preserving the ecosystems on which they depend. This is a good example of "survivor bias". The authors pay attention to cultures that have survived, ignoring all the failed indigenous cultures. They are also making a misleading statement about these cultures by suggesting their practices were such that they would have continued on had they not been interrupted by Europeans.

The authors give some broad, non-science based introductions to topics like resilience, panarchy, and ecosystems, going so far as to misrepresent an ecosystem as some sort of smoothly running conflict-free process. Nature is cutthroat. It is unforgiving to elements that are causing problems. It is not the sort of place where the members are focused on "Fostering a sense of joy and belonging through rituals and celebrations following natural cycles" (p.47). Unless, of course, you see a bear taking down a moose then killing any animal that tries to interfere with his meal a joyful celebration.

On the bright side, I think this book provides a lot of introductory information and some good references on the topics it addresses.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Steinhoff on February 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems presents a case for locally driven processes that model cities along the principles of ecosystems, and to integrate cities within bioregions. Newman and Jennings organize the book by the ten Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities. The Melbourne Principles were developed at an international charrette sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Each chapter of Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems - the authors call it CASE - discusses one of the Melbourne Principles and describes strategies to achieve them. The authors present a comprehensive overview of all aspects of sustainability, backed by extensive research and best practice examples around the world.

As a description of principles and a compendium of practices, I found the book at times somewhat a dense read. On the other hand, my tenacity was rewarded by a good framework for understanding city sustainability, and by many inspiring efforts. Of particular interest to me is the idea and methods for basing human societies and settlements on the characteristics of sustainable ecosystems: healthy (e.g. use of solar energy, cycling of matter), zero waste, self-regulation, resilience and self-renewal, and flexibility. Newman and Jennings do a good job of applying these characteristics to cities in a practical way. They build on these characteristics to discuss cities as clusters of eco-villages within bioregions.

I read books first from the library to save my money for those I think will be valuable over time. Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems is one I bought.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Professor Lilmom on March 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
I used this book as one of two texts for "Introduction to Urban Ecosystems". It presents an important new perspective on viewing cities. As such, I would also assign other readings on the chapter topics.
I reviewed many potential texts for my class and this one covered the topics that I thought were important. For the class, I used the Melbourne principles as a premise that served the topic well.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jacquesc on April 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent work by experts in the field - used as part of the study work for a specific course at Curtin University
and very useful as a general exposition of work required now and in the future.
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0 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tsang Chi Yui Derek on April 23, 2010
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The book you sent to me is torn and I want to launch a complaint
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