PhD defence: Zanariah Jasmani
This PhD research is at the interface of urban ecology, landscape architecture and the management of urban green space. The overall aim of the PhD study has been to gain deeper knowledge about the characteristics of small urban parks through investigation of their social and ecological qualities for enhancing ecological resilience. Nine small urban parks were investigated in a Malaysian city using the combined field survey method of structured observation and field measurements.
This study developed a framework to assess the important features of small urban parks according to three categories of explanatory variables: physical characteristics, vegetation diversity and human factors. Birds and butterflies were used as indicators for assessing ecological functions and biodiversity. The results demonstrate that the percentage of canopy cover, park size and native vegetation species are the best predictors of the abundance and richness of bird species in small urban parks. Abundance and richness of butterfly species can be best predicted by the percentage of canopy cover, shrub species and the number of native vegetation.
Observations revealed that activities in the surrounding areas influence the presence of birds in the small urban park. Birds and butterflies react differently to various park maintenance practices (e.g., mowing). Recommendations are provided for improving the ecological functions and enhance the biodiversity of small urban parks. These recommendations aim to provide landscape architects, urban planners, park managers and municipalities with strategies that can promote ecological resilience. The present study does not conclude that small urban parks are better than large parks, but highlights the important role of small urban parks in urban green infrastructure.