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Name: Neven Tandarić

PhD: Environmental Geography, Urban Planning

Thesis Title: Planning for cultural ecosystem services: A study of socialist and post-socialist Croatia


Thesis Description:

Although nature in cities is increasingly valued, there has been remarkably little research on how it should be managed (Goode 2014, Andersson et al. 2015). This PhD will examine critically the way urban nature has been understood, planned, ignored and celebrated over the transition from socialist to post-socialist Croatia since 1960 (Fowkes 2015). Recent research has emphasised the value of the cultural ecosystem services (CES) provided by parks, gardens, street trees and remnant ‘semi-natural areas’ within cities and along rivers and roads (Ives and Kendal 2013, 2014). However, there has been no research of CES across a socio-cultural transition and on how their intangible aspects can be planned. Moreover, there is little theoretical work on the interplay between cultural contexts and natural features in the generation of CES and their benefits.

The aim of the research is to study the cultural geographies of urban nature in Croatia since 1960 to understand changes in the ways such nature has been understood, mapped, planned and used. This project seeks to examine how people’s understanding and use of urban nature has been affected by the political and cultural transition to a post-socialist society in Croatia. Case studies in three Croatian cities will examine the cultural geographies of city planning including recreational parks, street trees and communal and private gardens from 1960. The cultural ecosystem services approach will be applied and tested to establish its value in measuring non-material, cultural-ecological benefits people gain from contact with nature.

The main objectives are to answer the following questions:

1) How has socio-economic and political transition affected perceptions of nature and cultural ecosystem services (CES)?

2) How have these changes historically influenced urban planning?

3) How can CES be integrated into current models of urban planning?

The main methods used to answer these questions will include the critical analysis of historical plans, maps, documents and photographs; oral histories and interviews with people from different socio-economic groups; analysis of local Facebook groups on urban cultural geography; interviews with past and present planners, landscape architects, artists; field visits and surveys of urban nature and the use of GIS and other methods to synthesise the results. A research network of urban planners, landscape designers and nature conservationists will be established in Croatia to maximise public involvement and the PhD’s research impact.

The project idea develops from my professional experience as an urban planner. I discovered that Croatian planners currently pay little attention to urban nature. Moreover, little is known about differences between planning of greenspaces in the socialist and post-socialist periods. In the former the focus was on housing and industry, but how were green spaces planned and perceived and how has the idea of recreation by contact with nature changed? The project idea links to my masters thesis on landscape planning of culturally valuable landscape elements for green tourism. This PhD will develop my research knowledge and experience and allow a critical analysis of the topic. The project will be based on interviews and oral histories with key stakeholders and the analysis of archives of plans, photographs and historical maps held by urban institutes of Zagreb and Šibenik. These data will be analysed with the help of GIS.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Prof Charles Watkins and Dr Chris Ives, University of Nottingham


Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):


Other Research Interests:

  • Geodiversity, Landscape Ecology, Theory of Geography


Planning for cultural ecosystem services: A study of socialist and post-socialist Croatia


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