Schools of Urban Ecology

Our Roots

The academic framework of urban ecology in Melbourne and Berlin comes from a long history of urban research in both cities. Berlin is considered the epicenter of urban ecology as a discipline, thanks in large part to pioneering work by Herbert Sukopp at the Technical University of Berlin (Kowarik 2020) and Melbourne is the birthplace to one of the first internationally recognized urban ecology research centers, (formally: Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, 1998-2016) located at the University of Melbourne.

This foundation has developed into the diverse working groups that we have today, with a collective wealth of urban ecology research in the southern and northern hemisphere, and set the stage for collaboration between these Schools of Urban Ecology for the future of urban biodiversity.

1 CURT / 2 Cities

Similar in population size (Berlin: 3.6 Mio; Melbourne 5.1 Mio), but different in areal size (Berlin: 892 km²; Melbourne: 9.992 km²) and age (Berlin: 1237; Melbourne: 1835), Melbourne and Berlin offer an excellent opportunity for comparative research in urban ecology. Developments from CURT, between these world-renowned cities, may provide foundational guidelines for sustainable urban areas in Europe, Australia and beyond.

Relevant Literature

Kowarik, I. 2020. Herbert Sukopp–an inspiring pioneer in the field of urban ecology. Urban Ecosystems, 23, 445–455

  • Prof. Ingo Kowarik, previous head of the Institute for Ecosystem Science and Plant Ecology at the Technical University of Berlin (TU), describes the early beginnings of urban ecology in Berlin, through foundational work by Herbert Sukopp.

McDonnell, M. J. 2011. The history of urban ecology: An ecologist’s perspective. Pages 5‐13 in Jari Niemelä, Jürgen H. Breuste, Thomas Elmqvist, Glenn Guntenspergen, Philip James and Nancy E. McIntyre, editors. Urban Ecology: Patterns, Processes and Applications. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

  • Prof. Mark McDonnell, past founding director of the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE) at the University of Melbourne, addresses the history of urban ecology at the global scale and documents various multidisciplinary research objectives that have made the field what it is today.

“Organisms and biological communities should be conserved to allow people direct contact with the natural elements of their environment. Only such open spaces can lead to the experience of natural beauty which permits coexistence between a nature existing in its own rights and people who are free to determine their own actions in this space.”

– Herbert Sukopp, History of the flora and Vegetation of Berlin and their conservation

Impressions of nature from Berlin and Melbourne

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and there