International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 2 > Issue 4

Urban Sprawl and Ecosystems — Can Nature Survive?

Daniel Czamanski, Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, , Itzhak Benenson, Tel Aviv University, , Dan Malkinson, University of Haifa, , Maria Marinov, Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, , Rafael Roth, Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, , Lea Wittenberg, University of Haifa,
Suggested Citation
Daniel Czamanski, Itzhak Benenson, Dan Malkinson, Maria Marinov, Rafael Roth and Lea Wittenberg (2008), "Urban Sprawl and Ecosystems — Can Nature Survive?", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 2: No. 4, pp 321-366.

Publication Date: 31 Dec 2008
© 2008 D. Czamanski et al.
Environmental Economics
Urban economicsUrban ecology
Urban spatial dynamicsSprawlLandscape dynamicsUrban ecology


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In this article:
1 Introduction 
2 The Spatial Dimension — Zones and Boundaries 
3 What do We Know about Urban Spatial Dynamics? 
4 Beyond the Built-Up Environment 
5 Urban and Peri-Urban Ecologies 


Contrary to the popular notion that the advancing frontier of urban development has been swallowing and destroying natural ecosystems we present evidence that the sprawl of cities creates ample open space in peri-urban areas. Traditional view of city–nature dichotomy and clear spatial separation should be substituted by a vision that reflects the complex spatial dynamics of city–rural–natural fabric with extended areas of overlap among them. We present a survey of the relevant research concerning urban and ecological systems spatial dynamics and conclude that nonregular, leapfrogging spatial expansion, characteristic of the majority of the modern western cities, may buffer between urban and intensively cultivated agricultural areas and counter their impacts on natural ecosystems. The wealthy sprawling suburbs provide essential habitats for native species and ensure their survival.