I am pleased and excited to get funding from Dublin Institute of Technology to undertake PhD research in the School of Transport Engineering, Environment and Planning. The aim of the research is to examine the role of communities and planning processes in the delivery of nature-based solutions (actions inspired by or copied from nature) in city centres.
Ireland, as elsewhere in the Europe, is becoming increasingly urbanised, with consequent environmental and social pressures. The literature reveals the connection between public health, well-being and nature, however, it also reflects concerns that urbanisation is quantitatively and qualitatively diminishing possibilities for human contact with nature and may be particularly acute within impoverished, inner city neighbourhoods. Nature-based solutions, including green infrastructure, are being promoted nationally, and at EU level, but with little understanding of how urban communities engage with nature and how to implement them.
My research will explore what nature based solutions are in the urban context, how urban communities engage with planning and development processes and how they might influence the implementation of greening policies. It will adopt a mixed methodology and will include a comprehensive review of the literature about nature-based solutions in the urban core, their benefits for communities and how communities engage with it; a case study in Dublin’s city centre involving documentary analysis, the identification of sub-groups within the residential and business community, direct observations and quantitative and qualitative surveys.
I hope that, in the end, it will provide a toolkit for planners, policy-makers and communities for the implementation of nature-based solutions in our inner cities. I look forward to working with my supervisors Dr Ken Boyle and Dr Conor Norton over the coming four years on this project, as well as stakeholders and interested parties.