In Rhizomia : Actors, Networks and Resilience in Urban Landscapes

Abstract: With accelerating urbanization it is crucial to understand how urban ecosystems play a part in generating ecosystem services for urban dwellers, such as clean water, spaces for recreation, stress relief and improved air quality. An equally important question relate to who gets to enjoy these benefits, i.e. the distribution of ecosystem services, and how issues of power and equity influence the management of ecosystems. Through case studies from the urban landscape of Stockholm, this doctoral thesis engages with these perspectives through combining ecological theory with social theory, including social network analysis, actor-network theory and social movement theory. Strategies for how to improve urban ecosystem management are presented along with frameworks for how to analyze issues of power and equity in relation to natural resource management.Paper I shows that ecosystem management can be studied through analyzing the structure of social networks, i.e. the patterns of relations between agencies, stake-holders and user groups. Paper II and Paper III analyze, based on a network survey of 62 civil society organizations and in-depth interviews, a transformational process of how an urban local movement managed to protect a large urban green area from exploitation (The Stockholm National Urban Park). Paper IV discusses, based on several case studies from Stockholm, a conducive network structure for linking managers and user groups (e.g. allotment gardens, cemetery managers, and urban planners) across spatial ecological scales so as to improve urban green area management. Paper V presents a framework to analyze the social-ecological dynamics behind the generation and distribution of ecosystem services in urban landscapes.The thesis points towards the notion of "a social production of ecosystem services" and argues for deeper engagement with urban political ecology and critical geography to inform governance and collective action in relation to urban ecosystems.