Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Exploring the cultural ecosystem services associated with unmanaged urban brownfield sites : an interdisciplinary (art and sciences) approach

Morrison, KM


KM Morrison


Unmanaged urban brownfields are widely perceived as wastelands and derelict empty spaces in need of a determined future end-use; how people utilize these spaces and connect with unmanaged nature appears inconsequential. There is a dearth of knowledge on the Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) of seemingly abandoned urban brownfields. The benefits of these sites as natural green space CES providers are neglected. Consequently, they are latent landscapes not fully understood or taken into consideration by decision-makers.

Perspectives on brownfields vary: informed by profession, discipline, experiential knowledge, and brownfield terminology. Knowledge from across disciplines that articulates connections that shed light on unmanaged brownfields as CES providers is reviewed critically. Process-led interdisciplinary fieldwork - integrating participatory social art practice, durational and performative public art - was used to explore every day phenomena of brownfields, and link the environmental settings and nature of unmanaged brownfields to cultural practices, benefits, and values.

Analysis of the data generated by the fieldwork reveals that unmanaged brownfields are accessed for cultural practices - play and exercise; creating and expressing; producing and caring; gathering and consuming - that yield cultural benefits. Reflexive practice provides a rich picture of unmanaged urban brownfields as CES providers: as natural green space for near-by communities and urban nature explorers. It also reveals physical and sociocultural barriers that affect access, perception, and appreciation.

Unmanaged urban brownfields have cultural value for those who use them. The interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences research and practice presented here reveals cultural practices and hitherto not-yet-valued CES of unmanaged urban brownfields. This is a new area of research: a first step in embedding approaches from these disciplines within ecosystem service and CES research. This research also identifies a need for an interdisciplinary characterization of brownfields to fully understand brownfields as environmental settings and the gamut of CES they provide.


Morrison, K. (in press). Exploring the cultural ecosystem services associated with unmanaged urban brownfield sites : an interdisciplinary (art and sciences) approach. (Thesis). University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jan 18, 2016
Keywords brownfields, wasteland, ecosystem service, CES, cultural ecosystem service, interdisciplinary, Art and Science, socially engaged practice, urban nature


Downloadable Citations