Land-use planning as a tool for balancing the scientific and the social in biodiversity and ecosystem services mainstreaming? The case of Durban, South Africa

Wan Yu Shih, Leslie Mabon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper evaluates the role of land-use planning, especially open space systems, in mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) at the urban level. Whilst there is increasing interest in BES mainstreaming to balance environmental protection with socio-economic development, there is also concern that BES thinking deflects attention from underlying social justice questions. Through the case study of Durban, South Africa – often held as an exemplar in BES mainstreaming – we argue open space systems can offer a pathway to BES mainstreaming that is both scientifically effective and socially just. Yet what makes this possible in Durban, we argue, is (1) a robust scientific evidence base deployed reflexively and sensitively; (2) a move towards explicit emphasis on providing benefits of BES to the most vulnerable people; and (3) supportive policy frameworks plus the presence of biodiversity managers able to navigate the political as well as scientific landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2338-2357
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number13
Early online date14 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2018



  • Durban
  • ecosystem services
  • environmental mainstreaming
  • open space system
  • urban planning

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