This edited compilation of 17 chapters is the latest book offering by DES staff. It is edited by Charlie Shackleton and post-doctoral fellow Elandrie Davoren, along with Sarel Cilliers and post-doc Marié Du Toit, both at Northwest University in Potchefstroom. Charlie says that Sarel Cilliers and he had contemplated such a book several years ago, but it took a while for them to simultaneously find a relative work gap that would allow them to actually do it. They each invited a post-doctoral fellow to join as both a learning opportunity and to share the load. Thereafter followed an intensive process of deciding on the subject areas of the various chapters and identifying and inviting (and at time cajoling) lead authors. All was going well until covid-19 struck and several lead authors found their lives turned upside down and deadlines had to become a lot more flexible in response. A reality of any edited volume is that it progresses at the pace of the slowest chapter. But they finally got it together and submitted the book only seven months later than the original target date. The final product brings together the contributions of 53 authors from 20 countries offering a combined total of 461 pages of the most up to date examination of challenges, issues and contributions around urban ecology in Global South contexts across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The motivation for the book, which weaving through the 17 chapters is that (1) relative to the Global North, there is only limited research and information on the urban ecology of Global South towns and cities, and (2) that Global North frameworks and understandings do not adequately fit the Global South dynamics because the socio-economic and ecological contexts of Global South urban systems are very different to those of the Global North. Indeed, with most urban people in the world already living in Global South countries (and growing), urban ecology should be driven by Global South realities, perspectives and framings if it is to be useful in addressing current and future urban sustainability challenges. Consequently, there is a need for a compilation of Global South examples and perspectives to highlight where and when Global North models and frameworks might be found wanting and thereby catalyse a move towards a more truly global perspective and framework of urban ecology to foster sustainable and resilient human settlements. The book embraces the complexity of the rapid transformations for ecological and environmental management and how the urban ecosystems and the benefits they provide shape local ecologies, livelihood opportunities and human wellbeing. Recurring and emergent themes across chapters are: rapid change; informality; vulnerability; legacies of colonialism; weak or constrained planning and implementation of policies and plans; connectivity; partnerships and local knowledge and action; biological invasions; environmental injustice; and perhaps most importantly, ‘context matters’. The table of contents of the book can be viewed at the publisher’s website (https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030676490).