Wildlife and well-being in urban landscapes

Nearly half of the world’s population lives in urban environments and this is projected to increase in future. With high human densities and demands on space, urban landscapes can be polluted and crowded, yet they also represent a rapidly expanding habitat for wildlife.

Globally, urbanization may have advantages through the concentration of human footprint and, potentially, efficiencies in resource management and urban sustainability.  As the number of urban residents increases, so do the potential health benefits of urban green spaces.  The qualities of urban green spaces and the diversity of species they support can impact peoples’ appreciation of such areas, and exposure to urban wildlife will be increasingly important to public understanding of the broader natural world.

This meeting focused on urban wildlife, including pollinators, a local hedgehog population and urban citizen-science projects, as well as discussing potential linkages between human well-being, physical health and urban ecology.


  • Professor Zoe Davies, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent
    Human health and wellbeing in urban green spaces

Zoe Davies is Professor of Biodiversity Conservation at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent. She is a landscape ecologist by training, but has become increasingly interested in using interdisciplinary approaches to answer research questions pertinent to supporting conservation policy and management. Zoe now works regularly with psychologists, economists, human geographers, engineers and landscape architects.  She is currently leading a large European Research Council grant entitled ‘Environmental Spaces and the Feel-Good Factor: Relating Subjective Wellbeing to Biodiversity’. As well as her work in the UK, she has a number of projects ongoing in Malaysian Borneo, Guyana and Kenya.

  • Dr Katherine Baldock, University of Bristol
    Conservation opportunities for pollinators in urban areas

Katherine Baldock is a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Bristol working on a range of projects looking at how urban habitat management can be improved to benefit pollinators. She works with a range of organisations including local councils, wildlife trusts and Defra. Prior to her fellowship Katherine’s postdoc, also at the University of Bristol, involved managing the Urban Pollinators Project, a UK wide project assessing pollinators in urban environments. She has also researched pollinators in more tropical environments, including the African savannah during her PhD based at the University of Edinburgh and the Costa Rican dry forest.​

  • Dr Chris Carbone, Institute of Zoology, ZSL
    London hedgehog watch: the preliminary findings from surveys on an elusive urban mammal

Chris Carbone is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.  The main developments in his research come from the field of macroecology, focusing on understanding ecological characteristics of animals using data (such as population density and diet types) from a wide range of species. His research asks questions, such as, how do terrestrial and marine predators differ in predator-prey relationships and how do herbivores and predators differ in activity levels and use of their environments. His work also incorporates survey methods such as camera-traps, which can be used to greatly improve our understanding of the abundance and distribution of animals in remote areas (tropical forests mammals) or species which are secretive or nocturnal in our local neighbourhoods (urban hedgehogs). This work helps us address critical questions such as, how are animals coping under increasing human pressure on their environments.  

  • Chaired by Professor Kate Jones, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, UCL

Kate Jones is Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London and Zoological Society of London and has held appointments at University of Cambridge, Columbia University and Imperial College London. Her research investigates the interface of ecological and human health, using statistical and mathematical modelling to understand the impact of global land use and climate change on ecological and human systems. Kate’s research has also developed tools for monitoring ecological health, particularly for monitoring ecosystems acoustically and runs a number of citizen science global programmes for monitoring biodiversity. Kate has written over 100 articles and book chapters in prestigious journals such as Nature and Science and is a scientific advisor for a number of international biodiversity charities and chaired The Bat Conservation Trust for 9 years. In 2008, Kate won the Leverhulme Prize for outstanding contributions to Zoology.


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