Geomorphic change and landscapes in Greater Manchester

Authors and Affiliations: 

Nigel Lawson and Ian Douglas

Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, UK.


UK-UNESCO Man and Biosphere Urban Forum


Greater Manchester was the shock city of the industrial revolution and the city’s industrial legacy continues to shape the local landscape and create powerful links between the local geomorphology and landscape ecology.  Geomorphology is the study of landforms and in heavily urbanised environments such as Greater Manchester where infrastructure affects natural drainage patterns these landforms are influenced by the local and regional geology, the topography, the population dynamics, and by the local economic, socio-economic and managerial practices

Much still needs to be done to improve the ecological well-being of urban conglomerations and of city centres such as Manchester. However there is still a tendency for some urban planners and decision makers to be constrained in accepting the full economic and societal benefits of urban greenspace and to view the provision of urban greenspace as a single issue and not as a vital part of the urban system. Issues such as river valleys crossing different administrative boundaries, land owner's priorities, the needs of the local population and long-term maintenance also impact substantially on the ecological well-being of landscapes in urbanised areas.

It is thus important to have an understanding of both the local geomorphic processes and socio-economic development in urban environments.  Planning, integrated management systems, holistic assessment of the landscape of urban environments and political and societal will are essential in ensuring action to improve the ecological well-being of urban landscapes.  The need is for the various disciplines involved in landscape ecology such as ecologists, hydrologists, urban geomorphologists and planners to all work together at both academic and regulatory levels.