Special Issue "Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X). This special issue belongs to the section "Urban Contexts and Urban-Rural Interactions".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2021) | Viewed by 15870

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Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alessio Russo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Arts, University of Gloucestershire, Francis Close Hall Campus, Cheltenham GL50 4AZ, UK
Interests: urban ecosystem services and disservices; nature-based solutions; biophilic urbanism; urban ecology; green infrastructure; urban agriculture; urban green spaces and health; ecological landscape design; sustainable planning; cultural landscapes; landscape architecture
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Giuseppe T. Cirella
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the Special Issue of Land on “Urban Ecosystem Services II”.

Urbanization, growth population and climate change have negative impacts on ecosystem services (ES) in cities. Assessing as well as estimating the losses of ES due to rapid urban expansion plays a significant role in sustainable urban development [4]. However, studies on the effects of urbanization on ES have shown inconsistent and, in some cases, contradictory results [1–3].

Modern compact cities have been identified as having a high-density and mixed-use pattern. Their features are believed to contribute to a form of functional urban design that supports sustainability and restresses the importance of ES. The urban green space plays a vital role in the design and impact on how compact cities have developed, and thus, a scientific discord on the amount of greenery individuals require and to what extent contemporary approaches address this has been triggered. Therefore, future cities should integrate social-ecological systems into urban planning, management, and governance [3,5].

This Special Issue aims to explore innovative approaches for enhancing urban sustainability and ES in the face of increasing urbanization concerns. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assessing natural capital and ecosystem services;
  • Compact cities;
  • Ecology in cities;
  • Ecosystem services, ecosystem disservices, and well-being;
  • Ecosystem service degradation;
  • Edible green infrastructure;
  • Green infrastructure;
  • Green space;
  • Green walls;
  • Healing garden design;
  • Landscape architecture and urban design;
  • Mapping and assessing ecosystem services;
  • Modelling ecosystem services;
  • Nature-based solutions;
  • Social-ecological systems;
  • Sustainable urbanism;
  • Urban agriculture;
  • Urban biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  • Urban biosphere reserve;
  • Urban ecosystems;
  • Urban forest;
  • Urban geography and development;
  • Urban–rural interface;
  • Urban sustainability. 

References

  1. Wang, J.; Zhou, W.; Pickett, S.T.A.; Yu, W.; Li, W. A multiscale analysis of urbanization effects on ecosystem services supply in an urban megaregion. Sci. Total Environ. 2019, 662, 824–833.
  2. Russo, A.; Cirella, G.T. Edible Green Infrastructure 4.0 for Food Security and Well-being: Campania Region, Italy. In International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning. Compendium of Inspiring Practices: Health Edition; Quinlan, V., Ed.; UN Habitat, HS/080/18E: Nairobi, Kenya, 2018; p. 72.
  3. Russo, A.; Cirella, G.T. Modern Compact Cities: How Much Greenery Do We Need? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 2180.
  4. Das, M.; Das, A. Dynamics of Urbanization and its impact on Urban Ecosystem Services (UESs): A study of a medium size town of West Bengal, Eastern India. J. Urban Manag. 2019, 1–15.
  5. Schewenius, M.; McPhearson, T.; Elmqvist, T. Opportunities for Increasing Resilience and Sustainability of Urban Social–Ecological Systems: Insights from the URBES and the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook Projects. Ambio 2014, 43, 434–444.

Dr. Alessio Russo
Prof. Dr. Giuseppe T. Cirella
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urbanization
  • ecosystem services
  • urban ecology
  • green infrastructure
  • green space
  • resiliency
  • sustainability
  • urban trees

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Urban Ecosystem Services: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Future Research
Land 2021, 10(8), 811; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080811 - 01 Aug 2021
Viewed by 920
Abstract
The term ecosystem services was coined to describe the societal benefit that natural ecosystems provide, as well as to raise awareness about biodiversity and ecosystem conservation [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Research

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Communication
Estimating Air Pollution Removal and Monetary Value for Urban Green Infrastructure Strategies Using Web-Based Applications
Land 2021, 10(8), 788; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080788 - 27 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1143
Abstract
More communities around the world are recognizing the benefits of green infrastructure (GI) and are planting millions of trees to improve air quality and overall well-being in cities. However, there is a need for accurate tools that can measure and value these benefits [...] Read more.
More communities around the world are recognizing the benefits of green infrastructure (GI) and are planting millions of trees to improve air quality and overall well-being in cities. However, there is a need for accurate tools that can measure and value these benefits whilst also informing the community and city managers. In recent years, several online tools have been developed to assess ecosystem services. However, the reliability of such tools depends on the incorporation of local or regional data and site-specific inputs. In this communication, we have reviewed two of the freely available tools (i.e., i-Tree Canopy and the United Kingdom Office for National Statistics) using Bristol City Centre as an example. We have also discussed strengths and weaknesses for their use and, as tree planting strategy tools, explored further developments of such tools in a European context. Results show that both tools can easily calculate ecosystem services such as air pollutant removal and monetary values and at the same time be used to support GI strategies in compact cities. These tools, however, can only be partially utilized for tree planting design as they do not consider soil and root space, nor do they include drawing and painting futures. Our evaluation also highlights major gaps in the current tools, suggesting areas where more research is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Applying the Evaluation of Cultural Ecosystem Services in Landscape Architecture Design: Challenges and Opportunities
Land 2021, 10(7), 665; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070665 - 24 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 803
Abstract
Landscape architects play a significant role in safeguarding urban landscapes and human well-being by means of design and they call for practical knowledge, skills, and methods to address increasing environmental pressure. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are recognized as highly related to landscape architecture [...] Read more.
Landscape architects play a significant role in safeguarding urban landscapes and human well-being by means of design and they call for practical knowledge, skills, and methods to address increasing environmental pressure. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are recognized as highly related to landscape architecture (LA) studies, and the outcomes of CES evaluations have the potential to support LA practice. However, few efforts have focused on systematically investigating CES in LA studies. Additionally, how CES evaluations are performed in LA studies is rarely researched. This study aims to identify the challenges and provide recommendations for applying CES evaluations to LA practice, focusing specifically on LA design. To conclude, three challenges are identified, namely a lack of consistent concepts (conceptual challenge); a lack of CES evaluation methods to inform designs (methodological challenge); and practical issues of transferring CES evaluations to LA design (practical challenge). Based on our findings, we highlight using CES as a common term to refer to socio-cultural values and encourage more CES evaluation methods to be developed and tested for LA design. In addition, we encourage more studies to explore the links of CES and landscape features and address other practical issues to better transfer CES evaluations onto LA designs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Ecosystem Services Changes on Farmland in Response to Urbanization in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area of China
Land 2021, 10(5), 501; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050501 - 08 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
Extensive urbanization around the world has caused a great loss of farmland, which significantly impacts the ecosystem services provided by farmland. This study investigated the farmland loss due to urbanization in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) of China from 1980 to [...] Read more.
Extensive urbanization around the world has caused a great loss of farmland, which significantly impacts the ecosystem services provided by farmland. This study investigated the farmland loss due to urbanization in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) of China from 1980 to 2018 based on multiperiod datasets from the Land Use and Land Cover of China databases. Then, we calculated ecosystem service values (ESVs) of farmland using valuation methods to estimate the ecosystem service variations caused by urbanization in the study area. The results showed that 3711.3 km2 of farmland disappeared because of urbanization, and paddy fields suffered much higher losses than dry farmland. Most of the farmland was converted to urban residential land from 1980 to 2018. In the past 38 years, the ESV of farmland decreased by 5036.7 million yuan due to urbanization, with the highest loss of 2177.5 million yuan from 2000–2010. The hydrological regulation, food production and gas regulation of farmland decreased the most due to urbanization. The top five cities that had the largest total ESV loss of farmland caused by urbanization were Guangzhou, Dongguan, Foshan, Shenzhen and Huizhou. This study revealed that urbanization has increasingly become the dominant reason for farmland loss in the GBA. Our study suggests that governments should increase the construction of ecological cities and attractive countryside to protect farmland and improve the regional ESV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Article
The Potential of Tram Networks in the Revitalization of the Warsaw Landscape
Land 2021, 10(4), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040375 - 04 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1209
Abstract
The current crisis of worldwide agglomeration and economic, spatial, and ownership factors, among others, mean that there is usually a shortage of new green areas, which are socially very beneficial. Therefore, various brownfields or degraded lands along public transport routes, e.g., tram lanes, [...] Read more.
The current crisis of worldwide agglomeration and economic, spatial, and ownership factors, among others, mean that there is usually a shortage of new green areas, which are socially very beneficial. Therefore, various brownfields or degraded lands along public transport routes, e.g., tram lanes, are effectively transformed for this purpose. The significant potential of tram systems is that they can became a backbone of green corridors across the city. This case study of the Warsaw tram system (total length over 300 km of single tracks in service in 2019) enables us to simulate the potential growth of a biologically active area connected with an increasing share of greenery around tram lanes in Warsaw. Experience allows the authors to present the types of greenery systems based on existing and future tram corridors best suited for this city. The suggested usage of tram lanes as green corridors is in line with the generally-accepted concept of urban green infrastructure. Therefore, the aim of the authors is to present in a condensed fashion their views on a very important issue within the program of the revitalization of the Warsaw landscape by converting where possible the existing tram lines, as well as planning new ones according to the “green point of view”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Who Pays the Bill? Assessing Ecosystem Services Losses in an Urban Planning Context
Land 2021, 10(4), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040369 - 02 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1201
Abstract
While Ecosystem Services (ES) are crucial for sustaining human wellbeing, urban development can threaten their sustainable supply. Following recent EU directives, many countries in Europe are implementing laws and regulations to protect and improve ES at local and regional levels. However, urban planning [...] Read more.
While Ecosystem Services (ES) are crucial for sustaining human wellbeing, urban development can threaten their sustainable supply. Following recent EU directives, many countries in Europe are implementing laws and regulations to protect and improve ES at local and regional levels. However, urban planning regulations already consider mandatory compensation for the loss of nature, and this compensation is often restricted to replacing green with green in other locations. This situation might lead to the loss of ES in areas subject to urban development, a loss that would eventually be replaced elsewhere. Therefore, ES assessments should be included in urban planning to improve the environmental conditions of urban landscapes where development takes place. Using an actual planning and development example that involves a proposed road to a restructured former industrial area in Bochum, Germany, we developed an ad-hoc assessment to compare a standard environmental compensation approach applying ES. We evaluated the impact of the planned construction alternatives with both approaches. In a second step, we selected the alternative with a lower impact and estimated the ES losses from the compensation measures. Our findings show that an ES assessment provides a solid basis for the selection of development alternatives, the identification of compensation areas, and the estimation of compensation amounts, with the benefit of improving the environmental quality of the affected areas. Our method was effective in strengthening urban planning, using ES science in the assessment and evaluation of urban development alternatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Land-Based Financing Elements in Infrastructure Policy Formulation: A Case of India
Land 2021, 10(2), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10020133 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 876
Abstract
A rapid increase in land and property values has been one of the driving forces of urban ecosystem development in many countries. This phenomenon has presented project proponents/policymakers with multiple options and associated challenges, nudging them to configure or incorporate elements of land-based [...] Read more.
A rapid increase in land and property values has been one of the driving forces of urban ecosystem development in many countries. This phenomenon has presented project proponents/policymakers with multiple options and associated challenges, nudging them to configure or incorporate elements of land-based financing in their policies and legislations. Specifically, the Government of India and various state governments have sought to monetize land through diverse instruments, for augmenting the financial viability of infrastructure and area development projects. This paper compares Indian central and state infrastructure policies/acts with regard to land monetization strategies. The analysis indicates that policies and legislations are taking a turn towards promoting land monetization mechanisms as a financing tool for cities and project implementation agencies. However, the approach is cautiously used and implementation is often seen to fall behind actual project timelines. Based on the findings, key determinants of a successful policy that captures an increase in land values, are identified. The learnings provide useful inputs for states to strengthen their policy documents and legislative/institutional frameworks, for ensuring the effectiveness of land-based financing tools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Integrating Diverse Perspectives for Managing Neighborhood Trees and Urban Ecosystem Services in Portland, OR (US)
Land 2021, 10(1), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010048 - 07 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1324
Abstract
Municipalities worldwide are increasingly recognizing the importance of urban green spaces to mitigate climate change’s extreme effects and improve residents’ quality of life. Even with extensive earlier research examining the distribution of tree canopy in cities, we know little about human perceptions of [...] Read more.
Municipalities worldwide are increasingly recognizing the importance of urban green spaces to mitigate climate change’s extreme effects and improve residents’ quality of life. Even with extensive earlier research examining the distribution of tree canopy in cities, we know little about human perceptions of urban forestry and related ecosystem services. This study aims to fill this gap by examining the variations in socioeconomic indicators and public perceptions by asking how neighborhood trees and socioeconomic indicators mediate public perceptions of ecosystem services availability. Using Portland, Oregon (USA) as our case study, we assessed socioeconomic indicators, land cover data, and survey responses about public perceptions of neighborhood trees. Based on over 2500 survey responses, the results indicated a significant correlation among tree canopy, resident income, and sense of ownership for urban forestry. We further identified the extent to which the absence of trees amplifies environmental injustices and challenges for engaging communities with landscape management. The results suggested that Portland residents are aware of tree maintenance challenges, and the inclusion of cultural ecosystem services can better address existing environmental injustices. Our assessment of open-ended statements suggested the importance of conducting public outreach to identify specific priorities for a community-based approach to urban forestry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Article
Governance, Nature’s Contributions to People, and Investing in Conservation Influence the Valuation of Urban Green Areas
Land 2021, 10(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010014 - 27 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1331
Abstract
There is little information concerning how people in the Global South perceive the benefits and costs associated with urban green areas. There is even less information on how governance influences the way people value these highly complex socio-ecological systems. We used semi-structured surveys, [...] Read more.
There is little information concerning how people in the Global South perceive the benefits and costs associated with urban green areas. There is even less information on how governance influences the way people value these highly complex socio-ecological systems. We used semi-structured surveys, statistical analyses, and econometrics to explore the perceptions of users regarding governance and the benefits and costs, or Ecosystem Services (ES) and Ecosystem Disservices (ED), provided by Neotropical green areas and their willingness to invest, or not, for their conservation. The study area was the El Salitre sub-watershed in Bogota, Colombia, and 10 different sites representative of its wetlands, parks, green areas, and socioeconomic contexts. Using a context-specific approach and methods, we identified the most important benefits and costs of green areas and the influence of governance on how people valued these. Our modelling shows that air quality and biodiversity were highly important benefits, while water regulation was the least important; despite the sub-watershed’s acute problems with stormwater runoff. In terms of costs, the feeling of insecurity due to crime was related to poor levels of maintenance and infrastructure in the studied green areas. Perceived transparency, corruption, and performance of government institutions influenced people’s Unwillingness to Invest (UTI) in green space conservation. Results show that socioeconomic backgrounds, government performance, and environmental education will play a role in the value or importance people place on the benefits, costs, and UTI in conservation efforts in urban green areas. Similarly, care is warranted when directly applying frameworks and typologies developed in high income countries (i.e., ES) to the unique realities of cities in the Global South. Accordingly, alternative frameworks such as Nature’s Contributions to People is promising. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Review

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Review
Which Traits Influence Bird Survival in the City? A Review
Land 2021, 10(2), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10020092 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2688
Abstract
Urbanization poses a major threat to biodiversity worldwide. We focused on birds as a well-studied taxon of interest, in order to review literature on traits that influence responses to urbanization. We review 226 papers that were published between 1979 and 2020, and aggregate [...] Read more.
Urbanization poses a major threat to biodiversity worldwide. We focused on birds as a well-studied taxon of interest, in order to review literature on traits that influence responses to urbanization. We review 226 papers that were published between 1979 and 2020, and aggregate information on five major groups of traits that have been widely studied: ecological traits, life history, physiology, behavior and genetic traits. Some robust findings on trait changes in individual species as well as bird communities emerge. A lack of specific food and shelter resources has led to the urban bird community being dominated by generalist species, while specialist species show decline. Urbanized birds differ in the behavioral traits, showing an increase in song frequency and amplitude, and bolder behavior, as compared to rural populations of the same species. Differential food resources and predatory pressure results in changes in life history traits, including prolonged breeding duration, and increases in clutch and brood size to compensate for lower survival. Other species-specific changes include changes in hormonal state, body state, and genetic differences from rural populations. We identify gaps in research, with a paucity of studies in tropical cities and a need for greater examination of traits that influence persistence and success in native vs. introduced populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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Review
A Review of Urban Ecosystem Services Research in Southeast Asia
Land 2021, 10(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010040 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2312
Abstract
Urban blue-green spaces hold immense potential for supporting the sustainability and liveability of cities through the provision of urban ecosystem services (UES). However, research on UES in the Global South has not been reviewed as systematically as in the Global North. In Southeast [...] Read more.
Urban blue-green spaces hold immense potential for supporting the sustainability and liveability of cities through the provision of urban ecosystem services (UES). However, research on UES in the Global South has not been reviewed as systematically as in the Global North. In Southeast Asia, the nature and extent of the biases, imbalances and gaps in UES research are unclear. We address this issue by conducting a systematic review of UES research in Southeast Asia over the last twenty years. Our findings draw attention to the unequal distribution of UES research within the region, and highlight common services, scales and features studied, as well as methods undertaken in UES research. We found that while studies tend to assess regulating and cultural UES at a landscape scale, few studies examined interactions between services by assessing synergies and tradeoffs. Moreover, the bias in research towards megacities in the region may overlook less-developed nations, rural areas, and peri-urban regions and their unique perspectives and preferences towards UES management. We discuss the challenges and considerations for integrating and conducting research on UES in Southeast Asia based on its unique and diverse socio-cultural characteristics. We conclude our review by highlighting aspects of UES research that need more attention in order to support land use planning and decision-making in Southeast Asia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II: Toward a Sustainable Future)
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