Peri-urban areas are zones of transition from rural to urban land uses located between the outer limits of urban and regional centres and the rural environment. The boundaries of peri-urban areas are porous and transitory as urban development extends into rural and industrial land. Irrespective of how the boundaries move there will always be peri-urban zones.
There are growing concerns about water and food security to meet increases in population in urban areas. For cities to be liveable and sustainable into the future there is a need to maintain the natural resource base and the ecosystem services in the peri-urban areas surrounding cities. Development of peri-urban areas involves the conversion of rural lands to residential use, closer subdivision, fragmentation and a changing mix of urban and rural activities and functions. Changes within these areas can have significant impacts upon agricultural uses and productivity, environmental amenity and natural habitat, supply and quality of water and water and energy consumption.
These changes affect the peri-urban areas themselves and the associated urban and rural environments. In the past, cities and towns have been established in areas that had secure water and energy supplies and fertile lands for food production. The burgeoning population growth and expansion of urban centres worldwide has placed increasing pressure on potable water supplies, energy and food supplies and the ecosystems services on which the community and the liveability of the community depend.
The themes of the conference are selected to focus on critical natural resource, socio-economic, legal, policy and institutional issues that are impacted by the inevitable drift of cities into peri-urban areas. Peri-urban 2014 is the first of its kind; an international, transdisciplinary conference which provides a valuable opportunity to explore these issues.