Vesa Yli-Pelkonen

Vesa Yli-Pelkonen
University of Helsinki | HY · Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

PhD

About

51
Publications
37,042
Reads
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3,957
Citations
Introduction
I have the title of docent (associate professor) in urban ecology. Research focus: ecosystem services provided by urban green areas, impact of urban vegetation on air pollutants levels (NO2, O3, VOCs, PAHs, particles), cultural ecosystem services, urban runoff mitigation, urban streams and lakes, carbon stocks of urban green areas, operationalisation of ecosystem services in urban planning and decision-making. I currently work as a science advisor at the Academy of Finland.
Additional affiliations
March 2018 - December 2021
University of Helsinki
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Description
  • Docent contract
February 2007 - January 2018
University of Helsinki
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Research and teaching, including coordinating the Helsinki Summer School course Ecology and Management of Urban Green Space (5 ECTS; 2009-2015)
January 2002 - January 2007
University of Helsinki
Position
  • PhD Student
Description
  • Research and teaching, doing PhD.
Education
January 2002 - January 2007
University of Helsinki
Field of study
  • Environmental Sciences
August 1995 - June 2001
University of Helsinki
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (51)
Article
Full-text available
Trees are believed to improve air quality, thus providing an important ecosystem service for urban inhabitants. However, empirical evidence on the beneficial effects of urban vegetation on air quality at the local level and in boreal climatic regions is scarce. We studied the influence of greenbelt-type forest patches on NO2 levels (i) in front of,...
Article
Full-text available
The predicted increase in the number of urban flood events can result in substantial monetary losses to society. These costs may be alleviated by preserving ecosystem services, such as urban runoff management. We studied the monetary value of this ecosystem service by applying the replacement cost method in six catchments with varying land-use inte...
Article
Full-text available
It is generally conceived that trees can clean polluted air in urban areas sufficiently enough to be considered providers of a vital ecosystem service, although there have not been many field studies showing this in practice in the neighborhood scale. Using passive sampling methods, we investigated the effect of urban park trees on the concentratio...
Article
Full-text available
Removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing carbon in vegetation and soil are important ecosystem services provided by urban green space. However, knowledge on the capacity of trees and soils to store carbon in urban parks - especially in the northern latitudes - is scarce. We assessed the amount of organic carbon stored in trees and soil of const...
Article
Full-text available
Trees and other vegetation have been advocated as a mitigation measure for urban air pollution mainly due to the fact that they passively filter particles from the air. However, mounting evidence suggests that vegetation may also worsen air quality by slowing the dispersion of pollutants and by producing volatile organic compounds that contribute t...
Article
Full-text available
Published in "Ilmansuojelu" journal (publisher: Ilmansuojeluyhdistys ry.) 02/2021, in Finnish on pages 4-7. Title in English: "Significance of urban parks as carbon storage". Read it here: https://issuu.com/ilmansuojelu/docs/is_2_2021_issuu/4
Article
Although it is commonly believed that trees can improve air quality, recent studies have shown that such pollution mitigation can be negligible – or that tree canopies can even increase pollutant concentrations near their sources compared to adjacent treeless areas. We explored the impacts of urban roadside forest patches on the concentrations of n...
Article
Urban green spaces (UGS) provide multiple benefits, and public parks in particular have a key role in supporting ecological and social sustainability in cities, contributing to human-nature interactions. We studied the interrelationships between uses, experiences and the environment by adopting a novel concept of urban biocultural diversity (BCD)....
Article
Full-text available
Monetary valuation methods are commonly used to analyze recreation values of water ecosystems. However, most studies on water-related recreation values have not analyzed direct links between ecological elements providing recreation opportunities and user demands. Therefore, we implemented an ecosystem service approach to study human-nature interact...
Article
Full-text available
Published in "Kvartti" journal (publisher: City of Helsinki, Urban Research and Statistics) 03/2018, in Finnish on pages 56-57 and in Swedish on pages 62-63. Title in English: "Trees near busy roads do not decrease concentrations of harmful air pollutants".
Article
The ecosystem service (ES) concept is becoming mainstream in policy and planning, but operational influence on practice is seldom reported. Here, we report the practitioners' perspectives on the practical implementation of the ES concept in 27 case studies. A standardised anonymous survey (n=246), was used, focusing on the science-practice interact...
Article
The Ecosystem Services (ES) concept highlights the varied contributions the environment provides to humans and there are a wide range of methods/tools available to assess ES. However, in real-world decision contexts a single tool is rarely sufficient and methods must be combined to meet practitioner needs. Here, results from the OpenNESS project ar...
Article
The operational challenges of integrated ecosystem service (ES) appraisals are determined by study purpose, system complexity and uncertainty, decision-makers' requirements for reliability and accuracy of methods, and approaches to stakeholder-science interaction in different decision contexts. To explore these factors we defined an information gap...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental justice sheds light on the distributive and procedural aspects of planning and decision-making. We examined the challenges arising from the perspective of environmental justice on multi-level and participatory environmental governance by exploring the governance of aquatic environments in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. We found three...
Technical Report
Full-text available
As the ecosystem service concept has become more widely recognised, so the number of biophysical, socio-cultural and monetary methods available to assess ecosystem services has increased. There is relatively little guidance on how to select and combine these methods into hybrid approaches that address policy purposes. Based on experiences from 27 c...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report is the final deliverable (D2.3) of WP2 of GREEN SURGE project (2013-2017) as a part of the EU FP7 (ENV.2013.6.2-5-603567). This research aims to illustrate how the Biocultural Diversity (BCD) concept can help urban practitioners, planners and decision-makers to understand the integration between biological diversity in Urban Green Infra...
Article
Full-text available
Trees and other vegetation absorb and capture air pollutants, leading to the common perception that they, and trees in particular, can improve air quality in cities and provide an important ecosystem service for urban inhabitants. Yet, there has been a lack of empirical evidence showing this at the local scale with different plant configurations an...
Article
Full-text available
The ability of urban vegetation to improve air quality for the benefit of urban residents is often considered fact since plants can absorb and capture air pollutants. However, there is little empirical evidence that urban air quality at the local scale is improved by the presence of, e.g. trees, especially in northern climatic regions. We studied t...
Article
Full-text available
Corresponding author at: University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Sciences, P.O. Box 27 (Latokartanonkaari 7) FI-00014, Finland. Assessment of the amount of carbon sequestered and the value of ecosystem services provided by urban trees requires reliable data. Predicting the proportions and allometric relationships of individual urban trees wit...
Article
Full-text available
Residents use urban forests frequently for many purposes, and benefits these forests provide to citizens and to society are manifold. Residents' perceptions of these benefits may be useful in supplementing the expert knowledge of forest ecosystem services to capture the variety of benefits and values related to these environments. We conducted a po...
Article
In collaborative urban planning, one of the key questions is how the input from residents’ participation can be integrated into planning and decision-making. In the planning of the urban green infrastructure, this input is necessary for understanding how residents experience and value their living environment. Use of this input is particularly chal...
Article
Full-text available
Hyvinvointi kaupunkiympäristössä: ekosysteemipalveluiden hyödyntäminen kestävän kaupunkisuunnittelun työkaluna -tutkimushanke on Kaupunkitutkimus ja metropolipolitiikka -ohjelman, Helsingin yliopiston ympäristötutkimuksen ja -opetuksen yksikön (HENVI) ja Suomen Akatemian URCA-konsortion rahoittamana keskittynyt tarkkojen mittausten avulla tutkimaan...
Chapter
Full-text available
Tutkimuksessa selvitettiin kaupunkiviheralueiden potentiaalia tuottaa ihmisen hyvinvoinnille välttämättömiä ekosysteemipalveluita. Tutkimuksen kantava ajatus oli saada tarkka, mittauksiin perustuva käsitys ekosysteemipalveluiden roolista kaupunkialueilla. Tutkimukset osoittivat, ettei puustoisten alueiden ilmanlaatu kaasumaisten ilmansaasteiden osa...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – Land‐use and cover change threatens remaining urban green areas and the provision of ecosystem services. The purpose of this paper is to address the importance, sufficiency and needs of local recreational ecosystem services in urban areas. Design/methodology/approach – The case study area is the City of Helsinki, Finland. In total, 30 ke...
Article
Full-text available
The ecosystem services criteria for strategic decision-making combine conceptualisation and concretisation of ecologically sustainable development. A concrete basis for the measurement, valuation, and assessment of ecological sustainability was created through the development of two-level criteria for ecosystem services, which were linked to indica...
Book
Full-text available
Urban region is ecologically sustainable, when the growth and development do not endanger ecosystem services and biodiversity even in a long run. This report presents an approach, developed in a Sustainable urban land use and transport (Seutukeke) –project during 2008-2011, for concretizing ecological sustainability in urban land use and transport...
Article
Full-text available
Cities are key drivers of global climate change, with the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions being tied to urban life. Local actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change are essential for stabilization of the global climate and can also help to address other urban ecological problems such as pollution, decreasing biodiversity, etc. Compa...
Article
Full-text available
Ecosystem services are vital for humans in urban regions. However, urban development poses a great risk for the ability of ecosystems to provide these services. In this paper we first address the most important ecosystem services in functional urban regions in Finland. Well accessible and good quality recreational ecosystem services, for example, p...
Chapter
Introduction: Our research has been inspired by the views of Dennis and Ruggiero (1996) who emphasised that even simple inventories, if done with quality and consistency and repeated over large geographical areas, can provide valuable understanding about ecology and the impacts of humans across the world. Approximately 75% of the human population i...
Chapter
Full-text available
Purpose – Urban stream ecosystems have often been seen as channels of water flow rather than as the valuable parts of an urban green space system providing ecosystem services. The study seeks to address the importance of urban stream ecosystems from the perspective of urban ecology, human health and social well-being in the context of urban plannin...
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this paper is to examine what factors determine the importance of ecological information in political decision making of urban land use in Helsinki, southern Finland. Results from the interviews of politicians and city officials show that ecological information becomes more important if there are significant conservation values con...
Article
Full-text available
Europe is a highly urbanised continent. The consequent loss and degradation of urban and peri-urban green space could adversely affect ecosystems as well as human health and well-being. The aim of this paper is to formulate a conceptual framework of associations between urban green space, and ecosystem and human health. Through an interdisciplinary...
Thesis
Full-text available
Urbanization leads to irreversible land-use change, which has ecological consequences such as the loss and fragmentation of green areas, and structural and functional changes in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. These consequences diminish ecosystem services important for human populations living in urban areas. All this results in a conflict sit...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – Urban stream ecosystems have often been seen as channels of water flow rather than as the valuable parts of an urban green space system providing ecosystem services. The study seeks to address the importance of urban stream ecosystems from the perspective of urban ecology, human health and social well-being in the context of urban plannin...
Article
Full-text available
This paper studies the use of ecological research information in urban planning focusing on Finland. Research questions addressed the importance and challenges of incorporating ecological information into the planning process, and ways to promote the use of ecological information. Fifteen key professionals from three representative development appr...
Article
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This paper is a study of the role of local ecological knowledge (LEK) as lay-expert knowledge in the urban land use planning process in Finland . The research addresses the importance of LEK, and the ways LEK is obtained and used. To obtain data, planning officials, biologists, and representatives of resident and nature associations were interviewe...
Article
Full-text available
The loss of urban green space as a result of urbanization threatens the overall biodiversity of urban areas, and prompts us to consider the importance of existing urban nature more carefully. Because urban ecological systems are in intense interaction with human-social systems, it is fruitful to create an interdisciplinary research and planning fra...

Projects

Projects (5)
Archived project
This was my (Vesa Yli-Pelkonen) PhD research project that started in early 2002 and ended in early 2007. In the project I studied the use of ecological information in urban land-use planning and decision-making processes.
Archived project
The objective of the project SEUTUKEKE was to collect and analyse a variety of strategies for sustainability and to concretise them into criteria and indicators, especially designed for land-use and traffic planning in mid-size urban regions (80,000 - 200,000 inhabitants) in Finland. Criteria are qualitative statements that include a desired objective for sustainability. Indicators measure quantitatively the fulfilment of each objective. Instead of restricting the analysis within administrative boundaries, the project focused on functional urban regions consisting of areas of multiple cities. Whenever possible, the indicators were based on freely available data that allowed the indicator results to be mapped using a GIS.
Project
We study empirically the impact of urban vegetation, especially trees, on the concentrations of air pollutants (e.g. NO2, O3, VOCs, PAHs, SO2, particulates) and if vegetation can or cannot improve air quality in cities and provide an important ecosystem service for urban inhabitants. Our goal is to provide much needed empirical research data on the topic. Our local-scale studies include different plant configurations, climatic regions and seasons as well as various urban environments (e.g. near-road environments, street canyons, and urban parks and forests).