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Authors: Wang, Xin
Title: Edible landscapes within the urban area of Beijing, China
Issue Date: 2016 Dissertation xvii, 344
Abstract: In recent years, edible landscape within the urban area (ELWUA) has become a topic of intense study in the field of landscape research worldwide. Urban agriculture could contribute to the sustainability of cities in various ways: socially, economically and environmentally. Therefore, facing the two global challenges of urbanization and food security, the integration of urban agriculture is suggested to be used as a strategy for sustainable and resilient urban development and providing a productive green infrastructure for the future cities. Especially at the present, agriculture is being rediscovered for use in modern urban space and becoming more and more popular in cities all over the world. During the last twenty or so years, the number of related concepts, research projects, conferences and teaching practices has greatly increased, especially in western countries. However, compared with the tremendous upsurge of research on ELWUA in western countries, the research on edible landscapes in China so far has mainly evolved around the issue of integrating agriculture in the suburbs and rural area, but only a few mentioned cases within the urban area. Therefore, there is an urgent need to fill in the research gap in the field of the edible landscape within the urban area (ELWUA) in China, thereby to contribute to the understanding of the essence and significance of the contemporary ELWUA in China in the 21st century. First, this dissertation reviewed the relative definitions, history and services of growing food within urban area, and the types of urban agriculture in Europe as the knowledge foundation of understanding the contemporary ELWUA. Then, taking Beijing as the research area, the research used an empirical research approach (by means of field surveys) with the aim of finding out the ELWUA’s physical characteristics (including spatial characteristics, type of edible plants, evolution process, materials and technology), social characteristics (including the information of the participants, organizational forms and motivations), ELWUA types, ELWUA services and people’s perceptions towards ELWUA. During the process of carrying out the field surveys, 38 sites were selected as the research cases and semi-structured interviews to six groups of people who are related to ELWUA were completed. After that, the characteristics of the ELWUA in Beijing were found through the comparison with European ELWUA cases. Finally, recommendations on how to use edible landscapes as a strategy to serve the sustainable development of Beijing and other metropolitan cities in China were proposed. The main contents and conclusions of the empirical research include: 1. The edible landscapes which exist within the urban area of Beijing are mainly a phenomenon that emerged along with the modern urbanization process of China. They could be classified into three main levels and nine types, which are: 1) the urban food gardening level, which includes family gardens, guerrilla gardens, community gardens, renting farming garden (called “Happy Farm”), educational/demonstration gardens and Danwei kitchen gardens; 2) the urban greening and landscaping level, which includes edible greening and landscaping with fruit trees and edible greening and landscaping with crops or vegetables; 3) the urban farming level, which includes agrotourists’ picking farms and experimental farms. In which, the edible landscapes cultivated by the public mainly emerged during the rapid urbanization process since the Chinese economic reform was carried out in 1978. It is a response of the urban dwellers that are living away from the rural landscape and nature who wish to pursue a healthy life (including leisure, health, food supplement and healthier food) and a pastoral life, rather than only simply an initiative for food production. Growing food within the urban area in Beijing mainly consists of urban residents’ spontaneous activities and it is inseparable from the daily life demands of the Chinese urban dwellers. Because it is an expression of the “people’s will”, it is a natural phenomenon and a cultural product embedded in the Chinese cultivation culture and rooted in the Chinese rapid urbanization process. The ELWUA in Beijing can supply multiple services for urban citizens, including 1) provision services, 2) environmental services, 3) social services, 4) health services, 5) economic services, 6) recreational services, 7) educational services and 8) cultural services. 2. The comparison of the ELWUA in Beijing and European cities indicated that to date the development of ELWUA in China is still in its infancy and has its own characteristics, which could be reflected in: 1) family gardens and informal guerrilla gardens, which are usually built by individuals, account for the majority of the total ELWUA in Beijing, 2) most of the ELWUA in Beijing is located in private space or semi-public space, 3) most of the ELWUA is bottom-up spontaneous activities of the urban dwellers, only a few were built under formal organization, in which, most of them were built only for public greening but not for people’s cultivation, 4) there is a large proportion of aged retirees in the spontaneous “urban hobby farmers”, 5) there is a high demand for growing food within the urban area from the urban residents, but there is a disparity of the perception and attitudes towards ELWUA between the public and the government or other administrations of urban landscape, 6) a lot of potential ELWUA services which could contribute to the urban healthy development and the well-being of people are still waiting to be recognized, explored and applied. 3. The development of ELWUA in China is currently facing a lot of challenges, which mainly include: 1) ELWUA is neglected even excluded from the urban landscape planning by urban authorities, 2) perception of agriculture being inappropriate in a city and lack of vision, 3) lack of space and land tenure uncertainties for ELWUA, 4) lack of organization, management and maintenance, 5) lack of knowledge and technical guide, and 6) the challenge of combining the aesthetic value of ELWUA into urban landscape. Based on the findings of this research, recommendations on how to use edible landscapes to promote the healthy and sustainable development of Chinese cities in the 21st century were proposed: 1) ELWUA should be supported as an ordinary urban practice and integrated as one component of the urban landscape, 2) more potential urban space should be excavated for ELWUA, 3) a systematic looped guide, which includes a) planning, b) building, c) maintenance and management, and d) monitoring and evaluation, should be formulated to support the implementation of ELWUA, 4) a publicly available environmental monitoring and information system on health security should be set up.
Appears in Collections:01 Fakultät Architektur und Stadtplanung

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