The Need

The conclusions of Kickert (2007) bring us close to the need for an integrated trans disciplinary and pluridisciplinary approach. there is a need for integration. Why then not directly go back to basics and take the science as starting point which already has this way of looking embedded: forest ecology and silvology. What wisdom of the forest could be beneficial and crucial for city management and governance. And why not design from here, because the science itself is integrated, cohesive, not fragmented and not segmented. Everything is connected. If the city is considered as an ecosystem, then the city could follow the definition of the ecosystem:

“A community of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components interacting through cycles of water, nutrients and energy flows.“ – Eugene P. Odum (1971)

Following major and crucial research on the architecture of and the dynamics within forest ecosystems it gives us first guidance how to structure our approach:

“A forest ecosystem can be conceived as a set of interactive subsystems. It is in fact built up from the basic components, the individual living systems – also called organisms like plants, animals and humans – via subsystems to the highest level. Organisms as such are built up from cells, tissues, organs and organ complexes. Upwards from individual organisms the system can be built up to community, unit, mosaic and finally forest.” – Roelof A.A. Oldeman (1990)

Forest & City
Can the consideration of the city as an ecosystem and the use of the highly developed forest language be helpful to diagnosis its state? The assumption is made that the city fully functions under the laws of nature and therefor is ground to make the comparison between the forest and the city plausible. Using the language of the forest can possibly contribute to a better understanding of its interactions, dynamics and resilience and even to morge integrated thinking, decision making and acting. Following the inspiration and clear lessons of Professor Oldeman (1990) we may find analogy and come to the following definition of the ecosystem city:

“The ecosystem city can be conceived as a set of interactive subsystems. It is in fact built op from the basis components, the individual acting systems – also called organisations like governments, civil organisations and businesses – via subsystems neighbourhood, area, district, suburb to the highest level, the city. Organisations as such are built up from individual people, teams, departments and holdings, but are considered as black box.” – Jack P. Kruf, 2018.

Let us follow and elaborate some basic building blocks from the forest towards the city.


Kickert, Walter (ed.) (2007) The Study of Public Management in Europe and the US. London & New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

Odum, Eugene P. (1971) Fundamentals of Ecology. 3rd edn. New York: Saunders.

Oldeman, R.A.A. (1990) Forests: Elements of Silvology. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Ecosystem City®