Vacant lots: An underexplored resource for ecological and social benefits in cities

Elsa C. Anderson*, Emily S. Minor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Vacant lots make up a large proportion of urban land and are of interest to many stakeholder groups. While they are often viewed as dangerous or unsightly, they can be an economic, social, and ecological resource. Here we present a literature review focused on restoring biodiversity in vacant lots, emphasizing the intersection of human and wildlife needs. We focus on the benefits, challenges, and processes of restoration in vacant lots and synthesize ecological, social, and economic information across these domains. We suggest that fast, inexpensive restoration techniques could be implemented in vacant lots and would be well suited to increasing greenspace in low-income areas. Furthermore, we emphasize that land managers, ecologists, sociologists, urban planners, and local communities must work together to conceptualize, carry out, and monitor restoration projects, as these projects are often characterized by disparate goals and insufficient follow-up. Vacant lot restoration is best addressed by an interdisciplinary approach that combines economic, social, and environmental needs and concerns into a holistic urban land use paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Biodiversity
  • Informal green space
  • Restoration
  • Social ecology
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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