Urban Ecology: the green within the city

Urban Ecology: the green within the city




The continuous urban development associated with the growth of the world population has become one of the most important challenges of the present time. Today, cities accommodate more than 54% of the world’s population, a proportion that is expected to increase to 70% by 2050. Trends in urbanization show that cities are becoming more complex and heterogeneous social-ecological systems, with a growing demand for natural resources mainly for infrastructure, housing, food, water, and energy. These, coupled with generalized environmental degradation and rapid social transformation, pose growing challenges that require an innovative and holistic approach of planning, managing and governing urban areas.

In this context, research is focusing on the role of the urban green infrastructure to deliver the ecosystem services necessary to city-dwellers' well-being. The urban green infrastructure is composed by the network of green spaces, such as public parks, urban forests, allotment gardens, green roofs, derelict lands, and street trees, among other. These green spaces are important for addressing urban sustainability, circularity, and resilience to global changes, as they play an important role to ensure the well-being of human populations.


The goal of this course is to provide participants with current and practical knowledge on urban ecology, including its ecological and social aspects.  During the course we will view cities as social-ecological systems, analyse urbanization challenges for human and nature, understand the role of urban green infrastructure and nature-based solutions, study how urban agriculture can contribute to the delivery of ecosystem services, use ecological indicators to evaluate the status and trends of the environment, analyse people’s perceptions and knowledge regarding biodiversity and ecosystem services, and achieving circularity of resources. Additionally, participants will gain knowledge of concepts, methods, and tools through the presentation of key findings from recent projects carried out in multiple case studies in European cities.

This course can have a recognition of 6 ECTs for FCUL PhD students enrolling in it as part of their first doctoral year. These students need to deliver two reports after the course. For students only requiring 5 ECTs recognized in their specific PhD programmes the last 3.5 hours of the course are not mandatory, they need to deliver only the main report and the certificate will be on'Topics in Urban Ecology’. Such report(s) are also advised for other students requesting creditation of the course in their institutions.

Minimal formation of students: BSc - Bachelor’s degree in Natural / Environmental Sciences, Agricultural / Forestry / Environmental / Civil Engineering or Social Sciences with interest in nature-based solutions and urban green spaces management.


Directed to: MSc or PhD students in Biology, Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Agricultural and Forestry or related areas, postdocs and professionals working in related topics

General Plan

Note: This course is intended to be presential, but if needed (e.g. due to COVID-19 security measures by the time of the course) it may be adapted to be given remotely.

This course is co-organized with COST action CircularCity.

General Plan

  • Overview on the theory and concepts beneath Urban Ecology:
  1. urbanization patterns and environmental impacts
  2. cities main challenges and the urban green infrastructure
  3. ecosystem services and nature-based solutions to address urban resilience and sustainability
  4. environment and people’s health
  5. functional diversity and traits
  6. urban agriculture – urban farms and orchards, aquaponics and soilless technologies
  7. built environment – vertical greening systems and green roofs
  • Presentations by invited speakers about research projects, to present state of the art knowledge and research being done internationally.
  • Presentation of the COST Action Circular City current work, on how to create a circular flow of nutrients and resources within cities using nature-based solutions.
  • Presentation and discussion with students regarding key topics for the application of the knowledge obtained, and presentation of the practical work, based on the use of nature-based solution to provide ecosystem services to solve environmental problems.



COST action CircularCity


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The course if free for all students attending.

For trainees, 10 grants of 1000 EUR each, are available from the COST Action Circular City. Request for the grant must be done during the application process. Students’ selection will be done taking into consideration travel distance, country of origin and gender balance.

1st year PhD students in  Doctoral programmes  at FCUL (e.g. Biologia), Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution (BIODIV UL; UP), Biology and Ecology of Global Changes (BEAG UL, UA) and Sustainability Science (UL, several institutions), when the course counts credits for their formation, have to deliver  one (or two) final report(s) done after the course, mandatory.

How to apply

Candidates should send to Pedro Pinho (paplopes@fc.ul.pt) and Rocío Pineda-Martos (rpineda@us.es) a short cv and motivation letter. The cv and letter should be named as 1st-lastNAME-CV.pdf and 1st-lastNAME-ML.pdf , respectively (that is personalize the name of each file with your first and last name).

In the email, please add the following information:

Full Name:



Professional activity: Professional/Postdoc, BTI, BI (or other non-post-doc research grant), PhD student (with / without scholarship), Lic. (Bachelor, BSc) / Master student (MSc)

PhD student of the 1st year of a Doctoral programme at FCUL, BIODIV (FCUL/FCUP), BEAG (FCUL or UA) or Sustainability Science (UL, several institutions)? (Yes / No)

If yes to the above question, PhD student doing the Course to count credits for 1st year? (Yes / No)

PhD student of cE3c or CEF (Centro de Ecologia Funcional)? (Yes / No)

Name of the PhD programme:


You want to apply for a travel grant from the COST Action Circular City? (Yes / No)

If YES also include:

Travel distance

Country of origin