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Special Issue "Urban Regeneration and Ecosystem Services Assessment"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 19385

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Pasquale De Toro
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Naples Federico II, Department of Architecture (DiARC)
Interests: Urban regeneration; Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis; Integrated Assessment; Geographic Information Systems; Ecosystem Services Assessment
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Silvia Iodice
E-Mail
Guest Editor
National Research Council, Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development (IRISS)
Interests: Urban metabolism; Ecosystem Services Assessment; Life Cycle Assessment; Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis; Circular economy
Dr. Francesca Nocca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Architecture, University of Naples Federico II, 80134 Naples, Italy
Interests: urban regeneration; circular economy; circular city; cultural heritage conservation and regeneration; integrated evaluation; multidimensional indicators
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The increasing urbanization that is characterizing our planet is causing a growing unsustainability, posing difficult challenges. It produces economic wealth but, at the same time, it is source of ecological and social poverty. Climate change is one of the most worrying negative effects. If in the past this phenomenon proceeded slowly, mainly due to natural processes, over time also human activities have contributed to increase the degradation of environmental components, putting a strain on the adaptive capacities of natural and urban ecosystems.

In this problematic context, the organizational structure of cities is more and more being questioned and investigated and cities can become a places wherein to implement practices of mitigation, adaptation and urban regeneration able to face these problems.

In this framework, ecosystem services, defined as the “multiple benefits provided by ecosystems to the human race” (MA, 2005), can play a key role in addressing issues related to territorial development and regeneration.

There are many classifications of ecosystem services, which have been categorized by MA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) and TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) studies into four groups: 1) supporting services, 2) provisioning services, 3) regulating services, 4) cultural services.

The basic concept of ecosystem services considers that human wellbeing is related to the services provided by nature and that their degradation leads to a reduction of this wellbeing also in terms of economic value. Services produced by ecosystems include, for example, food, drinking water, materials or fuel, natural waste recycling, climate and tide regulation.

Ecosystem services play a fundamental role in society. The loss of ecosystem services contributes to food and energy uncertainty, to increase vulnerability to natural disasters, such as floods or tropical storms, to decrease the health level, to reduce the availability and quality of water resources and affects cultural heritage. So, they represent a significant percentage of the “total economic value” of our planet (Costanza et al., 1997).

Considering that many impacts on the supply of ecosystem services are influenced by changes in land use, which can lead to fragmentation and loss of ecosystem functions, they are closely linked to urban regeneration processes and strategies.

Urban planning processes supported by ecosystem services analysis lead policy makers to re-orient their strategies for sustainable territorial transformation. To this end, the assessment of the impacts of urban transformation processes and vulnerabilities should not be limited only to the economic analysis, but it should include multidimensional impacts, taking into account also no-market goods.

Therefore, ecosystem services can play a fundamental role in the evaluation processes of political choices, public investments and entrepreneurial activities. Different approaches, models and methods have been proposed in the different research fields for qualitative, quantitative and monetary evaluation of ecosystem services. There are several types of tools (biophysical, economic, mixed, etc.) referred to different scales (regional, local, etc.), aimed at biophysical and/or economic dimensions, also integrating Multi-Criteria Analysis with Geographical Information System (GIS) (D’Auria et al, 2018).

The ecosystem services assessment prompts a new approach on planning for increasing health conditions for citizens and reducing the environmental risk in urban areas. Currently, planning tools often neglect the ecosystem services and their dynamic interactions, while it is necessary take also in account innovative approaches to address issues that today represent key points of local, national and international policies (United Nations, 2015).

This Special Issue is addressed to scholars that study and analyse sustainable urban regeneration strategies and methodologies for ecosystem services assessment and territorial analysis.

The aim of this Special Issue is to provide methods and tools for urban sustainable regeneration and ecosystem services assessment and to collect concrete experiences of sustainable urban transformation strategies, increasing the awareness of an ecosystem services approach and the role of their evaluation in the decision-making processes related to urban and territorial regeneration.

References

Costanza, R., d’Arge, R., de Groot, R., Farber, S., Grasso, M., Hannon, B., Limburg, K., Naeem, S., O’Neill, R.V., Paruelo, J., Raskin, R.G., Sutton, P., van den Belt, M. (1997), “The value of the worlds ecosystem services and natural capital”. Nature, 387, 253-260.

D’Auria, A., De Toro, P., Fierro, N., Montone, E. (2018), “Integration between GIS and Multi-Criteria Analysis for Ecosystem Services Assessment: a methodological proposal for the National Park of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni (Italy). Sustainability, 10, 3329.

De Groot, R., Alkemade, R., Braat, L., Hein, L., Willemen, L. (2010), “Challenges in integrating the concept of ecosystem services and values in landscape planning, management and decision making”. Ecological Complexity, 7, 260-272.

MA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) (2005), Ecosystems and human well-being: Synthesis. Island Press. Washington, DC.

United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org

Prof. Dr. Pasquale De Toro
Dr. Silvia Iodice
Dr. Francesca Nocca
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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2200 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

  • Urban Regeneration
  • Ecosystem Services Assessment
  • Integrated Assessment
  • Total Economic Value
  • Urban Planning Tools
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Multi-Criteria Analysis

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Regeneration Criteria for Adaptive Reuse of the Waterfront Ecosystem: Learning from the US Case Study to Improve European Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4156; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084156 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1228
Abstract
The article addresses the contemporary debate on urban and environmental regeneration, investigating the need to establish new criteria to implement the defence of coastal ecosystems by climate problems. The research looks at coastal vulnerabilities, starting with the environmental fragility of flooding, as an [...] Read more.
The article addresses the contemporary debate on urban and environmental regeneration, investigating the need to establish new criteria to implement the defence of coastal ecosystems by climate problems. The research looks at coastal vulnerabilities, starting with the environmental fragility of flooding, as an opportunity to regenerate waterfront ecosystems. The research aim concerns the analysis of US advanced regeneration practices to learn and transfer the principles derived from them to the European context. This transferability takes place through the construction of regeneration criteria for the coastal ecosystems rebalancing. The regeneration criteria are resulted from an ecosystem reading of the winning projects of the Rebuild by Design competition. These practices represent in the scientific literature an exceptional example of a holistic response to the problem of post-disaster intervention. These cases offer an integrated response in terms of processes, investments, the duration of the design and realization. In addition, these cases simultaneously address multiple vulnerabilities, making it possible to extrapolate from their analysis specific directions to replicate in contexts where even just one of the critical issues exist. The methodological analyses exploit the focus emerged from the scientific literature on environmental vulnerabilities, technological innovation, and stakeholder involvement. The results are regeneration criteria able to verify the appropriateness of ecosystem anti-flooding strategies. Comparing the results with the most recent US and the EU strategic documents, the regeneration criteria demonstrate their relevance and coherence with the international priorities as well as their potential transferability to the European context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Ecosystem Services Assessment)
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Article
Forecasting Agroforestry Ecosystem Services Provision in Urban Regeneration Projects: Experiences and Perspectives from Milan
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2434; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052434 - 24 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1806
Abstract
The expansion of urban agglomerates is causing significant environmental changes, while the demand and need for sustainability keep on growing. In this context, urban and peri-urban agriculture can play a crucial role, mainly if associated with an agroecological approach. Indeed, the extensive use [...] Read more.
The expansion of urban agglomerates is causing significant environmental changes, while the demand and need for sustainability keep on growing. In this context, urban and peri-urban agriculture can play a crucial role, mainly if associated with an agroecological approach. Indeed, the extensive use of living fences and tree rows can improve the environmental quality, assuring ecosystem services (ES), developing a sustainable urban food system and increasing local productions and the related socio-economic improvements. This study aims to assess the benefits of an agroecological requalification of a dismissed peri-urban area in the South Milan Agricultural Regional Park (Italy), by evaluating two possible scenarios, both involving planting trees and shrubs in that area. The software I-Tree Eco simulates the ecosystem services provision of planting new hedgerows, evaluating the benefits over 30 years. The study underlines the difference between the two scenarios and how the planted area becomes an essential supplier of regulating ecosystem services for the neighbourhoods, increasing carbon storage and air pollution removal. Results were then analysed with a treemap, to better investigate and understand the relationship between the different ecosystem services, showing a notable increase in carbon sequestration at the end of the simulation (at year 30). The study shows a replicable example of a methodology and techniques that can be used to assess the ES in urban and peri-urban environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Ecosystem Services Assessment)
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Article
Regenerativescapes: Incremental Evaluation for the Regeneration of Unresolved Territories in East Naples
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6975; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176975 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2146
Abstract
The unresolved territories are privileged places for the proliferation of degradation phenomena that affect the environment and human well-being. The impacts of their critical conditions go beyond the limits of the damaged urban fragments, involving the built environment, society, economy, culture, and conditioning [...] Read more.
The unresolved territories are privileged places for the proliferation of degradation phenomena that affect the environment and human well-being. The impacts of their critical conditions go beyond the limits of the damaged urban fragments, involving the built environment, society, economy, culture, and conditioning quality of life. This paper proposes a methodological approach to landscape design supported by an evaluation framework to orient strategic design planning with specific attention to unresolved territories consistent with the circular economy perspective. The circular city principles are applied to landscape spatial planning, by operationalising Ecosystem Services, Landscape Services, and Ecosystem Disservices, as interpretative categories for multi-dimensional regenerative strategies. Starting from a theoretical framework, the objective of the analysis is to implement an approach to the regenerative design of landscapes of waste, defined wastescapes. The industrial area of East Naples is the case study where an incremental evaluative approach has been defined to design scenarios to provide services and values, aimed to drive the conversion in a regenerativescape. A multi-criteria analysis through preference ranking organisation method for enriched evaluation (PROMETHEE)-GAIA method has been implemented to compare the base case scenario with two incremental new scenarios and identify situated sustainable priorities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Ecosystem Services Assessment)
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Article
Identifying Dynamic Changes in Ecosystem Services Supply and Demand for Urban Sustainability: Insights from a Rapidly Urbanizing City in Central China
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3428; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083428 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 1966
Abstract
Identifying the balance and dynamic changes in supply and demand of ecosystem services (ES) can help maintain the sustainability of the regional ecosystem and improve human well-being. To achieve a sustainable ecological management regime in Zhengzhou City, this study presented a comprehensive framework [...] Read more.
Identifying the balance and dynamic changes in supply and demand of ecosystem services (ES) can help maintain the sustainability of the regional ecosystem and improve human well-being. To achieve a sustainable ecological management regime in Zhengzhou City, this study presented a comprehensive framework for identifying dynamic changes of ES supply and demand and managing ES. Using land use data of Zhengzhou City in 1995, 2005, and 2015 and incorporating expert knowledge and the ES evaluation matrix, we evaluated the spatiotemporal changes in the ES supply and demand in Zhengzhou. Gradient analysis was conducted to identify urban–rural patterns in the budgets of ES supply and demand. Spatial autocorrelation analysis was employed to identify the hotspot areas of ES surpluses or deficits. The research results show the following: (1) In the past 20 years, the supply-and-demand relationship of ES in Zhengzhou has gradually evolved in a direction where supply falls short of demand. The average budget index of Zhengzhou’s ES supply and demand decreased from 7.30 in 1995 to −4.89 in 2015. Changes in the supply and demand status of ES in Zhengzhou corresponded to the background of rapid urbanization. (2) Urban–rural gradient differences exist in the budgets of ES supply and demand in Zhengzhou. Core development areas, such as the Zhengzhou urban areas, are in deficit, whereas a balance or surplus can be observed in rural areas far from urban centers. (3) The surplus hotspots of ES budgets were mainly distributed in the western and southern mountainous areas of Zhengzhou, and they were scattered and the scope shrank, with a decrease of 2.73 times in 20 years, whereas the deficit hotspots expanded outward with each urban area as the center, with an increase of 5.77%. Ecological management zoning (ecological conservation area, ecological improvement area, and ecological reconstruction area) with the effective guidance of ecological and economic policies could comprehensively improve ES management and achieve urban sustainability. The framework in this study can easily and quickly assess the supply and demand status of ES and provide scientific support for the ecological management in rapidly urbanizing areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Ecosystem Services Assessment)
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Article
Ecosystem Model Proposal in the Tourism Sector to Enhance Sustainable Competitiveness
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6652; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236652 - 25 Nov 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 9980
Abstract
Service companies in developed countries represent 70–80% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Spain, within the service sector, tourism is the main contributor and is growing annually. This is obviously an opportunity for the country due to its benefits and economic effects [...] Read more.
Service companies in developed countries represent 70–80% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Spain, within the service sector, tourism is the main contributor and is growing annually. This is obviously an opportunity for the country due to its benefits and economic effects but at the same time a well-structured, sustainable and competitive model for its continued development is needed in order to adopt best practices and reference innovative models from other sectors. A qualitative approach using Case Study, Grounded Theory and Delphi Method has been conducted to study the tourism sector in the city of Gandia, Valencia (Spain). Results show that a tourist destination with its different components and stakeholders involved in its value chain can be interpreted as an ecosystem and so reference ecosystem models could be adopted to boost the development of a region. Considering the results obtained, this study can contribute to the development of a tourist destination in a sustainable and innovative way. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Ecosystem Services Assessment)
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Review

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Review
Shedding Light on Peri-Urban Ecosystem Services Using Automated Content Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9182; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169182 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1327
Abstract
The objective of this paper is to provide an overall perspective on peri-urban ecosystem services in European Countries. The phenomenon of urbanization affecting our era has seen the shift of the city from compact and well-defined structures to agglomerations with a seamless expansion. [...] Read more.
The objective of this paper is to provide an overall perspective on peri-urban ecosystem services in European Countries. The phenomenon of urbanization affecting our era has seen the shift of the city from compact and well-defined structures to agglomerations with a seamless expansion. This has led to several environmental consequences that have affected the urbanized areas and the surroundings. The peri-urban areas may be the main urban design and planning challenge of the 21st century. These hybrid landscapes, characterized by high fragmentation, can be turned into opportunities to improve the sustainability and quality of urban areas, generating multiple economic, social and environmental benefits. Areas beyond the immediate urban core can be considered a zone of influence, which represent a critical resource in terms of provisioning, regulating, supporting services and cultural ecosystem services. Our study has been developed in the framework of the project “Fertile Lands, Fragile Lands” funded by the University of Catania. A multi-phased method has been applied, showing strong, heterogeneous ties between landscape and ecosystem services. While the importance of literature studies on this topic is well recognized, the same attention has not been placed on the tools and methods of conducting systematic and incremental literature reviews. Using Leximancer software, we propose a text mining approach to extract relevant themes and concepts as well as related topics of interest from identified literature on peri-urban ecosystems. We first introduce the overall methodology and then discuss each phase in detail. The outputs can be used as starting point for broad exploratory reviews and allow further exploration in this issue. The results show how the peri-urban space can be seen as a mosaic in which the settlement, the agricultural and the environmental systems interact and coexist, placing at the centre the relationship of reciprocity between the built environment and the open territory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Ecosystem Services Assessment)
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