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Using findings of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO), we propose three specific solutions to mitigate the loss of ecosystem services and biodiversity in our urban and urbanizing landscapes. The CBO identified continued loss of criti-cal habitats for biodiversity conservation and degradation of many important ecosystem services due to urbanization. The fact that most ecosystem services and biodiversity itself are common goods facilitates this loss and degradation. To address this issue, a fundamental solution can be giving value to ecosystem services and biodiversity in the market-place and firmly incorporating them in urban planning processes. This solution can be achieved with a three-pronged approach: (1) ecosystem services can be conceived as a utility similar to the provision of electricity and water, and cities can structure their governance and urban planning processes to ensure adequate ecosystem service provision; (2) the local level solutions, especially in places where urban expansion encroaches upon biodiversity hotspots, can go a long way in the conservation of biodiversity at the global level; and (3) the well-being of biodiversity and the sustainability of ecosystem services in the face of humanity's massive urbanization require coordination by governments at all levels. Thus, as the world becomes ever more urban, urban decision-makers and citizens will need to not only re-connect to nature, but also adopt policies to integrate nature into our daily lives. sage_solar Giving value to ecosystem services would gain them greater consideration in urban planning, an integral step in conserving biodiversity and ecosystems in the face of widespread urbanization. | November-December 2014 | Solutions | 61 A recent global assessment by hundreds of scientists, the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO) examined how the coming mas-sive global urban growth will interact with the natural world. 1 By 2030, there will be almost 2 billion new urban resi-dents, and this rapid urban growth has significant implications for the fate of human society and the natural world. With one of the sponsor organizations being the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), it is not surprising that the CBO had a strong focus on how urban growth directly and indirectly affected ecosystem services and biodiversity. The CBO also had a strong focus on how cities depend on ecosystem services, the ben-efits to human well-being provided by nature, and how that dependence will change with rapid urban growth in the coming decades. The report highlights the resulting synergistic effects on ecosystem services and biodiversity of climate change, projected growth of human population in cities, and urban land-use change. In this paper, we not only highlight a few key findings of the CBO, but also present the fundamental challenges that urban growth poses for ecosystem services and biodiversity, potential solutions to address these fundamental challenges, and three specific mechanisms that can help cities harmonize their relationship to ecosystem services and biodiversity.
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60  |  Solutions  |  November-December 2014  |
Rob McDonald, Burak Guneralp,
Wayne Zipperer, and Peter Marcotullio
The Future of Global
Urbanization and
the Environment
In Brief
Using findings of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO), we propose three specific solutions to mitigate the loss of 
ecosystem services and biodiversity in our urban and urbanizing landscapes. The CBO identified continued loss of criti-
cal habitats for biodiversity conservation and degradation of many important ecosystem services due to urbanization. 
The fact that most ecosystem services and biodiversity itself are common goods facilitates this loss and degradation. 
To address this issue, a fundamental solution can be giving value to ecosystem services and biodiversity in the market-
place and firmly incorporating them in urban planning processes.
This solution can be achieved with a three-pronged approach: (1) ecosystem services can be conceived as a utility 
similar to the provision of electricity and water, and cities can structure their governance and urban planning processes 
to ensure adequate ecosystem service provision; (2) the local level solutions, especially in places where urban expansion 
encroaches upon biodiversity hotspots, can go a long way in the conservation of biodiversity at the global level; and (3) 
the well-being of biodiversity and the sustainability of ecosystem services in the face of humanity’s massive urbanization 
require coordination by governments at all levels. Thus, as the world becomes ever more urban, urban decision-makers 
and citizens will need to not only re-connect to nature, but also adopt policies to integrate nature into our daily lives.
Giving value to ecosystem services would gain them greater consideration in urban planning, an integral step in conserving biodiversity and ecosystems in
the face of widespread urbanization.|November-December 2014|  Solutions  |61
Arecent global assessment by
   hundreds of scientists, the
     Cities and Biodiversity Outlook
(CBO) examined how the coming mas-
sive global urban growth will interact 
with the natural world.1 By 2030, there 
will be almost 2 billion new urban resi-
dents, and this rapid urban growth has 
significant implications for the fate of 
human society and the natural world. 
With one of the sponsor organizations 
being the Secretariat of the Convention 
on Biological Diversity (CBD), it is not 
surprising that the CBO had a strong 
focus on how urban growth directly 
and indirectly affected ecosystem 
services and biodiversity. The CBO 
also had a strong focus on how cities 
depend on ecosystem services, the ben-
efits to human well-being provided by 
nature, and how that dependence will 
change with rapid urban growth in the 
coming decades. The report highlights 
the resulting synergistic effects on 
ecosystem services and biodiversity of 
climate change, projected growth of 
human population in cities, and urban 
land-use change. In this paper, we not 
only highlight a few key findings of the 
CBO, but also present the fundamental 
challenges that urban growth poses for 
ecosystem services and biodiversity, 
potential solutions to address these 
fundamental challenges, and three 
specific mechanisms that can help 
cities harmonize their relationship to 
ecosystem services and biodiversity.
The Fundamental Problem
The CBO found continued degradation 
of many important ecosystem services 
upon which urban dwellers depend. 
While there are many different causes 
of this degradation of service, includ-
ing loss of habitat, climate change, and 
regulatory and institutional barriers, 
one fundamental underlying problem 
was identified in several of the chapters 
of the CBO: many ecosystem services, 
in particular regulatory and cultural 
services,2 are common or public goods. 
That is, these ecosystem services are 
non-excludable goods, in that the 
benefits they provide are not easily 
limited to only those who can pay for 
them, but are freely available to a large 
set of people.3 For instance, a large for-
ested patch in an urban region helps to 
maintain and regulate air quality and 
temperature locally and potentially 
regionally, yet these benefits are avail-
able to essentially all those near the 
forested patch, regardless of whether 
they have paid for their provision.
Both empirical evidence and envi-
ronmental economic theory suggest 
that common and public goods are 
generally underprovided by free mar-
kets—a phenomenon called ‘market 
failure’. Since any actions individuals 
might take that increase ecosystem 
service provision would benefit people 
who do not have to pay to receive 
the benefit, there is little financial 
incentive for individuals to consider 
ecosystem services in their decisions. 
For similar reasons, ecosystem services 
are often not given adequate weight 
during policy decision-making pro-
cesses, although the mandate of some 
policy makers to consider the greater 
good can sometimes allow some con-
sideration of ecosystem services. For 
example, by converting forested lands 
into new residential areas, the prop-
erty developers may gain financially 
off this conversion, but other people 
in the city at large may lose because 
of the loss of ecosystem services once 
forests disappear. Such actions can also 
lead to intergenerational equity chal-
lenges in terms of the benefits derived 
from the ecosystem services. Property 
developers have no economic incen-
tive to consider these broader social 
impacts. Such disconnect is the funda-
mental problem causing widespread 
degradation and loss of ecosystem 
services upon which humans depend.
One very important ecosystem 
service affected by development is 
freshwater provision.4 Urban areas 
depend on upstream natural habitat 
for regulating water flows, and impact 
freshwater provisions to downstream 
communities. Consider the example 
of the expanding city where forests 
are replaced by residential areas. This 
increase in the impermeable surface 
area leads to increased volumes of 
surface water runoff, which increases 
the vulnerability to flooding of down-
stream communities. Urban landscapes 
with 50 to 90 percent impervious cover 
can lose 40 to 83 percent of rainfall to 
surface runoff compared to 13 percent 
in forested landscapes.5
Key Concepts
An international team of more than 200
scientists conducted a global assessment
of urbanization and the environment,
called the City Biodiversity Outlook
(CBO), finding widespread degradation
of ecosystem service provision for
urban residents and a substantial loss of
biodiversity in urban and urbanizing areas
The fundamental problem identified by the
CBO is that most ecosystem services and
the existence value of biodiversity are
non-market goods and are not adequately
considered in economic or policy
In this paper, we argue that the
fundamental solutions to this problem are
to quantify the value of ecosystem ser-
vices for urbanites and to create policy
mechanisms that incorporate the value
of ecosystem services into economic and
policy decision-making. We present three
such potential policy mechanisms:
Cities should consider ecosystem ser-
vices as a utility they supply to their
residents, on par with the provision
of electricity and water, and structure
their governance and urban plan-
ning processes to ensure adequate
ecosystem service provision
As the vast majority of future
biodiversity lost due to urban growth
will be in a few hotspots in develop-
ing countries, local level solutions to
safeguard biodiversity in the face of
urban expansion would go a long way
in the conservation of biodiversity at
the global level
The well-being of biodiversity and
sustainability of ecosystem services
in the face of humanity’s massive
urbanization require coordination by
governments across multiple scales
and jurisdictions
62  |  Solutions  |  November-December 2014  |
Freshwater provision has signifi-
cant externalities, but also has some 
characteristics of a private good. On 
the one hand, urbanization affects 
land cover which in turn affects the 
quantity and quality of water available 
for other users downstream. Unless 
restricted by government policy or reg-
ulation, cities tend to degrade the water 
quality of downstream water sources, 
either through diffuse pollution (e.g., 
sedimentation from construction, 
polluted stormwater runoff) or point 
source pollution (e.g., wastewater 
release). On the other hand, urban 
areas require water. Water is directly 
needed for human use, and supports a 
variety of other secondary ecosystem 
services (e.g., recreation, biodiversity, 
transportation). Many cities go to great 
lengths to safeguard their water source, 
and have a direct financial stake in the 
health of this water source.
Another example of market failure 
is not adequately considering the 
cultural ecosystem services provided 
by the urban forest, especially parks, 
during urban planning process. These 
cultural services are vital for human 
health and well-being, and include 
recreational value, aesthetic benefits, 
and benefits to human physical and 
mental health. Since city environ-
ments can be stressful for inhabitants, 
the recreational aspects of urban eco-
systems are among the highest valued 
ecosystem services in cities. Parks, 
forests, lakes, and rivers provide a 
manifold of possibilities for recreation, 
thereby enhancing human health and 
well-being.6 Unfortunately, many of 
these areas are lost or degraded during 
urbanization, which could have been 
prevented to some extent through an 
integrated planning process.
The CBO also found continued loss 
of biodiversity due to urbanization. 
Although the CBO stressed that urban 
areas continue to harbor important ele-
ments of biodiversity, the net impact of 
urban growth globally is a loss of bio-
diversity. Much like the situation with 
ecosystem services, the maintenance 
of biodiversity is not adequately con-
sidered in the economic decisions of 
individuals or in the policy decisions of 
governments. Despite the considerable 
importance of biodiversity, both for the 
maintenance of ecosystem services and 
for the value many people place on its 
existence, it is generally afforded little 
economic importance during decisions 
of urban planning and growth.
Cities are often located in areas 
of high biodiversity richness and 
endemism (along coastlines, some 
islands, and major river systems), and 
therefore, have a significant direct 
impact on biodiversity.7 Examples 
of biodiversity hotspots include the 
Mediterranean Basin, Atlantic Forest, 
California Floristic Province, and Indo-
Burma and Sundaland which contain 
nearly all Southeastern Asian urban 
lands (27, 000 km2). Direct impact 
includes habitat loss, fragmentation 
and degradation of remaining blocks 
of natural habitats, the increase in 
non-native invasive species, and the 
loss of sensitive indigenous species. 
Moreover, the urban land in biodiver-
sity hotspots have already affected 
ecoregions that contain 10 percent 
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2012)
The City Biodiversity Outlook presents a global assessment of urbanization and the environment.|November-December 2014|  Solutions  |63
of terrestrial vertebrates,8 and future 
urban area in hotspots is forecast to 
increase by about four times globally 
from 2000 to 2030.9
Protected areas (PAs) have been 
one of the main tools used to limit 
biodiversity loss due to habitat con-
version. Urban expansion is expected 
to continue near PAs, at least at the 
same pace as elsewhere across most 
of the world.10 In fact, the amount of 
urban land near PAs is expected to 
increase around the world, on average, 
by more than three times between 
2000 and 2030 (from 450,000 km2
circa 2000), with China developing 
the most urban land within 50 km of 
its PAs by 2030. The largest propor-
tional change, however, will likely be 
in Mid-Latitudinal Africa where urban 
land near PAs is estimated to increase 
15 to 25 times by 2030.
The CBO stresses, however, that 
significant biodiversity remains in 
urban areas globally. Williams et 
al. (2009) identified three sources 
of species in urban landscapes: (1) 
native species originating in the area 
itself; (2) native species occurring 
regionally; and (3) non-native species 
introduced by humans or naturalized 
in the region. Changes in any of them 
may affect species diversity in a city.
Analyses of long-term species records 
provide insights into how these 
sources change, with species richness 
in group 1 tending to decline and 
species richness in groups 2 and 3 
often increasing, leading to biotic 
homogenization.11 Although the 
general pattern is of a decline in 
native-species richness, it can still 
comprise 50 to 70 percent of total 
species richness in a city.12
Finally, the CBO stressed that 
urbanization is a complex phenom-
enon tightly linked to a number of 
other development processes. It is 
counterproductive for policymakers to 
consider urbanization solely as a prob-
lem, since it is an unavoidable part of 
economic development and popula-
tion growth. A more useful way to 
think about global urbanization is as 
both a challenge to the sustainability 
of our planet’s natural systems and as 
a tremendous opportunity to change 
how cities structure and function.13
The Fundamental Solution
If the fundamental environmental 
problem with urbanization is that 
most ecosystem services and biodi-
versity are common or public goods 
that are not adequately considered 
in economic or policy decisions, 
what is the fundamental solution? 
Here, we suggest that one part of 
the solution must be giving value to 
ecosystem services and biodiversity 
in market decisions, as well as bring-
ing new regulatory mechanisms 
and infrastructure systems in urban 
governance for the efficient manage-
ment of ecosystem services and 
conservation of biodiversity.
This overarching solution is so 
general that it may seem obvious, 
and there are of course myriad 
specific ways that governments at 
various levels (municipal, regional, 
or national) can intervene to give 
value to biodiversity and ecosystem 
services. In this paper, we offer three 
specific mechanisms towards reaching 
the fundamental solution. While 
our experience as lead editors shapes 
our suggestions, these three specific 
mechanisms are in no way exhaustive. 
Other potential mechanisms exist, 
and the mechanisms that are effective 
in one city may not be effective in 
other cities due to local ecological or 
socioeconomic circumstances.
Treating Ecosystem Services
as an Urban Utility
Cities worldwide are structured to 
have different departments or utili-
ties that provide key services to their 
residents: clean water, electricity, 
sanitation services, and many more. 
These services are now generally either 
directly provided by publicly owned 
entities, or by private companies that 
are employed by and strictly regulated 
by the cities they serve. While it is easy 
now for many urban residents to take 
these publicly-guaranteed services for 
granted, they have not always been 
considered as an essential urban ser-
vice. For instance, water provision and 
waste disposal have been at different 
points in history seen as primarily the 
responsibility of individual households, 
only becoming a generally accepted 
publicly-guaranteed service in the 
19th century.14 Electricity provision 
only came to be seen as a publicly-
guaranteed service in the 20th century, 
and in recent decades, some cities have 
begun to view cheap wireless internet 
access as a similar common good they 
can provide to their citizens.
We suggest that cities need to con-
sider the provision of key ecosystem 
services on par with the other services 
they supply to their citizens. Currently, 
ecosystem services are considered 
piecemeal by existing municipal 
departments or agencies: the water 
utility might think about hydrologic 
regulating services upstream of 
reservoirs, the parks department might 
think about the recreational value of 
open space, and the electricity provider 
might try to promote shade trees to 
reduce summer air-conditioning costs. 
Certain ecosystem services lack any 
advocates. For instance, few cities have 
departments with institutional man-
dates to facilitate carbon sequestration. 
Moreover, this piecemeal arrangement 
means that it is difficult to fully 
account for the multiple benefits that 
natural habitats provide in a city or 
region. For instance, a water utility may 
consider source watershed protection 
for its benefits to raw water quality, but 
will tend to consider any recreational 
benefits that might occur with conser-
vation as incidental to its mission.
What if public utilities engage 
in payments for ecosystem services 
(PES)? This requires a change in mind-
set, but also in pricing and related 
regulatory mechanisms of utilities. 
Unfortunately, there is currently little 
research on how this may work in 
64  |  Solutions  |  November-December 2014  |
practice.15 One example is incentives 
put in place for public water utility 
districts in California to participate in 
innovative finance mechanisms.16 A 
component of this initiative involves 
paying landowners upstream to 
better manage their lands, avoiding 
increases in pollutant loads caused 
by land change. However, pricing 
mechanisms such as PES are only part 
of the solution and may need to be 
replaced or complemented with other 
mechanisms depending on the specific 
ecosystem-service bundle in question. 
Moreover, the whole infrastructure 
network upon which utilities for deliv-
ering their services may need to be 
reformed to reflect the type of ecosys-
tem services. For instance, the concept 
of green infrastructure, also called 
integrated infrastructure, envisions 
a more landscape-oriented approach 
that integrates various resource flows 
and is a promising alternative to 
prevailing paradigm in infrastructure 
construction and management.17
Some cities are already beginning 
to think in a more integrated fashion 
by having sustainability offices that 
write sustainability plans for the city. 
These plans are supposed to have 
integrated environmental goals, and 
can serve to coordinate the actions of 
different urban agencies so that they 
provide maximum benefit for citizens. 
However, sustainability offices often 
have limited budgets and resources, 
and do not have any direct authority 
over the agencies whose actions the 
sustainability plan is supposed to 
coordinate. What would it look like 
if the sustainability office in a city 
had as its mission to provide the full 
spectrum of ecosystem services to 
its citizens, and managed the budget 
and resources that were to create the 
green infrastructure to provide those 
ecosystem services?
Minimizing habitat and biodiver-
sity loss and limiting degradation of 
ecosystem services also require cities 
to integrate ecological knowledge 
into their urban planning practices.18
Specifically, urban planning practices 
need to become more attuned to 
conservation of biodiversity and 
preservation of ecosystem services 
Casey Eisenreich
Residents enjoy Boston Common on a spring day. Urban parks have recreational and aesthetic value, and contribute positively to the mental and physical
health of urban dwellers.|November-December 2014|  Solutions  |65
that are of critical importance for the 
inhabitants of the urban areas.19,20
In this respect, the dissemination of 
information and connection of science 
to practitioners is an important aspect 
of formulating sound urbanization 
strategies that explicitly acknowledge 
and consider conservation of biodi-
versity. However, one of the critical 
prerequisites to ensure this integration 
is that urban planners be equipped 
with the requisite institutional capac-
ity to integrate policies and manage 
natural resources directly.21,22
Novel ecosystems, communities 
composed of both native and non-
natives species, which occur often on 
sites previously cleared because of 
anthropogenic activities, may give us 
insights into how future ecosystems in 
urban landscapes may function. Often 
these areas are managed with inten-
tion to be restored to a state reflecting 
conditions prior to urbanization. This 
is often a futile attempt; instead, these 
novel ecosystems should be viewed 
positively for their contributions to 
society rather than being treated as 
inferior to natural communities. In 
fact, novel ecosystems are critical 
ecological areas in both shrinking and 
expanding cities, where these areas 
can be managed to provide a variety of 
ecosystem services, including water, 
fuel, and food, as well as recreation.
Local Efforts to Protect
Biodiversity Hotspots under
Urbanization Pressure
As discussed above, the biodiversity 
impact of cities tends to be concen-
trated in particular cities located in 
high biodiversity areas. Another way 
to measure the biodiversity impacts of 
cities is to calculate for the ecoregions 
of the world the expected number 
of endemic vertebrate species that 
might be lost due to urbanization 
(Figure 1). The total number of spe-
cies lost depends on the amount of 
urban growth (and hence habitat loss) 
expected between 2000 and 2030, 
the endemic species richness, and 
the species area curve assumed. In 
this simple case, we assume a linear 
species-area curve, although in actual-
ity the shape of the curve will vary 
among taxa and geographic region. 
Note that regardless of the species 
area curve that is assumed, the spatial 
concentration of endemic richness and 
urban growth implies that endemic 
species loss is highly concentrated. 
The 25 most threatened ecoregions, 
3 percent of all ecoregions globally, 
account for 50 percent of the expected 
loss. Urban growth in just 10 percent 
of all ecoregions accounts for 78 per-
cent of the expected loss. Thus, actions 
to maintain biodiversity in a relatively 
small number of ecoregions could 
have a disproportionately large benefit 
in terms of avoiding biodiversity loss 
for urbanization.
Of the actions proposed to ame-
liorate urban effects on biodiversity,
setting aside large parcels of native 
habitats in those parts of the biodi-
versity hotspots facing urbanization 
pressure may provide the best oppor-
tunity for regional floral and faunal 
species to persist. These protected 
areas would need to be large enough 
to contain the spectrum of natural dis-
turbances as well as native habitats. 
With land conservation, a number of 
landscape designs are possible. For 
instance, one design for large parcels 
would make these areas composed 
of multiple-utilization zones.23 The 
interior zone would be road-free and 
managed to conserve native flora and 
fauna. By comparison, the perimeter 
would serve as a buffer that is used for 
multiple benefits and linked to other 
areas. An example would be the Tijuca 
Forest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Large 
parcels can, to some extent, buffer 
local climatic changes and contain 
more individuals of a single species, 
thus enhancing its genetic breadth. 
Even these large areas, however, will
not be immune to human intrusions; 
natural resource managers must 
also continually adapt to changing 
The conservation of large parcels 
of natural habitats brings into play 
debates over whether we should 
preserve large versus numerous small 
areas of native habitats. With climate 
change and the rapid changes brought 
about by urban land-use conversion as 
well as intensive utilization by rural 
populations, larger areas may be able to 
buffer against better than smaller sites, 
especially for native faunal species. 
Nonetheless, smaller protected areas 
can also play a critical role for human 
use by maximizing ecosystem services 
for water, fuel, and food to minimize 
intrusions into the larger areas. In 
addition, both large and small parcels 
could be used to enhance species migra-
tion across inhospitable habitats, thus 
facilitating species relocation.
International Coordination for
Urban Sustainability
Solutions to reconcile the ongoing 
urbanization and conservation require 
policies that work in harmony across 
scales, from local to regional to global, 
and across political jurisdictions. 
In particular, establishing effective 
biodiversity conservation strategies in 
regions that are expected to undergo 
significant urban expansion require 
coordinated efforts among multiple 
cities, provinces, and even countries. 
Such coordination, however, has 
been hard to achieve even among 
conservation bodies under existing 
regional and global governance 
mechanisms.24 The recently formed 
Intergovernmental Platform on 
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 
(IPBES: aims to 
remedy this lack of coordination 
by, among other things, conducting 
periodic sub-regional, regional, and 
global assessments on the state of the 
planet’s biodiversity, its ecosystems, 
and the essential services they provide 
to society.25 Established in April 2012, 
the IPBES will act as an independent 
intergovernmental body, much like 
the Intergovernmental Panel on 
Climate Change (IPCC) and will be 
66  |  Solutions  |  November-December 2014  |
open to all member countries of the 
United Nations. Clearly, the impacts 
of urbanization on biodiversity are 
critical enough to be included in these 
assessments. In this vein, the CBO—as 
endorsed by the CBD—is the first ever 
comprehensive assessment of the 
interaction of cities and biodiversity 
and ecosystem services.
However, many biodiversity 
hotspots threatened by urban growth 
are located in developing countries, 
which may have limited financial 
resources to devote to land protec-
tion. Moreover, since the attention of 
municipal governments in developing 
countries is often understandably 
focused on things like providing clean 
drinking water and sanitation to 
their burgeoning urban population, 
biodiversity protection may not be 
seen as a municipal priority. However, 
globally, there is substantial interest in 
preventing massive biodiversity loss 
in these biodiversity hotspots that face 
continuing urbanization. We suggest 
that this spatial disconnect between 
those making the decisions in cities in 
biodiversity hotspots and those who 
care about the biodiversity losses can 
be overcome by a global effort to pro-
tect these biodiversity hotspots from 
further urban encroachment. This 
effort must include focusing conserva-
tion funding from organizations and 
governments in the developed world to 
these hotspots in the developing world.
Several biodiversity hotspots and, 
in some cases, protected areas, span 
across national borders. In such cases, 
challenges posed by urbanization to 
biodiversity conservation and ecosys-
tem service preservation cannot solely 
be met by local-level solutions; they 
require policy responses on a broader 
scale, and thus call for appropriate 
strategies with sufficient breadth 
to be developed at the national and 
international levels. The implications 
of urbanization in such biodiversity 
hotspots and protected areas for 
their biodiversity and ecosystem 
functioning can be more accurately 
Courtesy of the authors
Figure 1: Expected endemic vertebrate species lost due to urban area expansion. The number of
species lost depends upon the amount of urban growth expected between 2000 and 2030, the endemic
species richness, and the species area curve assumed. The 25 most threatened ecoregions are
shown with red dots (A). The majority of species loss due to urbanization will be in a small fraction of
ecoregions (B). See text for details.
Expected endemic loss
Most threatened ecoregions
Prop. of ecoregions with greatest species loss
0100 200 300 400 500 600
0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1. 0
Endemic species loss
< 1
2-4 8-16
4-8 > 16
B|November-December 2014|  Solutions  |67
assessed through trans-border regional 
cooperation between the countries 
involved.26 Two examples are the 
Indo-Burma and Himalaya hotspots, 
which are undergoing rapid urbaniza-
tion,27 and span multiple jurisdictions 
within and among countries. There 
have been developments towards 
such cooperation between China and 
India in the region though obstacles 
remain.28 A promising initiative of 
such regional cooperation involves 
the Mediterranean Basin hotspot, 
arguably the most human-modified 
of all hotspots. MediverCities, an 
initiative in the making, aims to 
create a network of cities focused on 
biodiversity around the Mediterranean 
Basin.29 Though not established to 
address urban-related biodiversity 
concerns, the Association of Southeast 
Asian Nations (ASEAN) Centre for 
Biodiversity is another example of 
regional cooperation that can readily 
serve as a platform for the coordina-
tion of urbanization and biodiversity 
conservation in Southeast Asia.
Notwithstanding uncertainties 
inevitable in any study on the future 
trends, it is increasingly clear that 
urbanization will continue to impact 
biodiversity and ecosystem services 
around the world. It is also clear that 
most of these impacts will take place 
in the developing world with limited 
means to address each and every 
challenge urbanization presents. We 
put forward three potential solutions 
to address this challenge: (1) treat-
ing ecosystem services as an urban 
utility; (2) local efforts to protect 
biodiversity hotspots under urbaniza-
tion pressure; and (3) international 
coordination for urban sustainability.
Each of these solutions is currently 
being experimented with in different 
locations with varying levels of suc-
cess. It is clear that as urbanization 
increases, however, urban decision 
makers and citizens will need to not 
only re-connect to nature, but adopt 
policies to integrate nature into our 
daily lives. 
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68  |  Solutions  |  November-December 2014  |
Rubem Porto Jr.
Preserving large parcels of native habitats in areas under urban pressure would protect regional biodiversity. An existing example is the Tijuca Forest in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.|November-December 2014|  Solutions  |69
Rubem Porto Jr.
Preserving large parcels of native habitats in areas under urban pressure would protect regional biodiversity. An existing example is the Tijuca Forest in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
... One of the most notable distinguishing characteristics of the current era of development is the formation of urban heat islands (UHIs), which is caused by the higher LST in any city [10]. According to a study by [11], there will be more than two billion more urban people by 2030, which will have an effect on what happens to the natural world. The LST is influenced by factors such as horizontal and vertical urbanisation, building spacing, building materials, the creation of public spaces, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) centres, highways, and bus stops [12]. ...
... Step 2: We converted the data of the TIRS band from SR to BT with the help of thermal constants given in the metadata file using Equation (11). Brightness temperature (Celsius). ...
Full-text available
The promptness of industrialisation and expanding urbanisation to achieve targets of economics are resulting in the transfiguration of permeable surfaces into impervious ones through LULC adaptation, leaving a herculean footprint on the ecosystem. The LULC escalates land surface temperature (LST), which further stimulates urban heat islands (UHIs), ultimately remaining in tune with high levels of air pollution, energy use, and corresponding health hazards. The present evaluation first used Landsat TM/OLI satellite data to identify the labyrinth of the LULC rotation and, secondly, gauged its effects on the LST in the Cachar district of Assam, India, for the years 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2020. It embraces Cellular Automata (CA) and GIS methodologies to pull out the urbanization pattern and its ramifications in various LULC brackets of Cachar, India. It also embraces spatiotemporal LULC monitoring (1990-2020) and urban growth modelling (2030-2040). From the period 1990 to 2020, satellite-based LULC showed a net urban expansion of 269.43 km 2 (7.13% increase). Some correlations were developed to show the relationship between spatial indices such as NDVI, NDBI, and NDWI with Land Surface Temperature (LST). Resultantly, a positive relation exists between LST and NDBI, but a negative correlation prevails between LST and NDVI, as well as NDWI. This evaluation will be of service to urban and environmental planners, providing them with detailed knowledge on how land cover is changing uniquely in northeast India.
... It has been proposed that approximately 25% of endangered or critically endangered species will be affected by urban expansion [59][60][61]. Further, 10% urban growth in ecoregions would result in 80% loss of species during 2000-2030 [60,62,63]. ...
... Also, ecosystem services (recreational values and cultural services) provided by urban green spaces and forests are vital for human (physical and mental) health but are often neglected during urban planning. Recreational ecosystem services provided by the urban ecosystem can be considered the most valued ecosystem services in cities [60,63]. Demand for urban ecosystem services is mainly due to the large number of immediate beneficiaries. ...
... Communicating changes in ecosystem services in monetary value offers a globally accepted measure that can meet the needs of policy makers [19][20][21]. However, we are faced with a major challenge, i.e., how to communicate the economic effect of the ecosystem service changes, since most of the supplied services are not captured by market values [22][23][24]. Therefore, accurate estimations of the spatiotemporal changes of ecosystem services remain difficult. ...
Full-text available
Being one of the weakest economies in the world, livelihoods in Afghanistan remain highly dependent on local ecosystem services. However, the risk of ecosystem services degradation in Afghanistan over the past two decades has significantly increased, mainly due to rapid changes in land-use and land-cover (LULC). As such, policy makers must be able to estimate the impact of LULC changes on various ecosystem services. By utilizing GlobeLand30 land cover products for 2000, 2010 and 2020, and by adopting the value transfer method, this study assessed the ecosystem services value (ESV) changes in response to the changes of LULC in Afghanistan. Additionally, the dynamics of the land system (DLS) model was innovatively coupled with linear programming to predict likely scenarios of ESV changes by 2030. The predicted results were also validated against actual land cover and achieved a Kappa value of 0.78. The results showed that over the 20-year period, ecologically important LULC categories such as forest, water bodies and grassland were severely unstable and rapidly decreasing in scope. These LULC types were being threatened by agricultural, built-up and unused lands. During this period, we estimated a decrease in the total ESV from 161 billion USD in 2000 to 152.27 billion USD in 2020. About 92% of this decrease was shared by supporting and provisioning services. The simulated scenarios also showed that ESV will likely further decrease under Business-As-Usual (BAU), and Rapid Economic Development (RED) scenarios. Positively, an Environmental Protection (ENP) scenario is predicted, with a 4.5% increase in ESV by 2030. However, achieving this scenario requires the enforcement of strict environmental protection measures.
... The increasing urbanization that extends beyond the city boundaries requires extensive planning interventions. The spread to peripheral regions affects the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystem services (McDonald et al. 2014). Urbanization and its spread, often engulfing the environment, disrupting biodiversity, has posed a challenge to planners and policymakers. ...
Landscape metrics have been gaining popularity in urban and regional planning since the early 2000s. Primarily used to assess landscapes’ ecological composition and configuration, the field has expanded to include studies on the environment, land use studies, ecosystem services, spatiotemporal changes in land uses, perception studies, and peri-urban studies. However, a summarization and review of published literature in landscape metrics and its application in urban and regional planning is missing. The present study proposes to familiarize researchers with an overview of the publications in the field. Hence, the review aims at identifying the most prominent authors, papers, journals, keywords, and countries conducting studies in the subject domain. The Web of Science database was selected owing to the broader coverage. The selected articles from the Web of Science database are analyzed using Bibliometrix and Vosviewer software to gather relevant publication trends and identify the most significant networks. The present paper is limited to bibliometric analysis and has identified advances in using landscape metrics in urban and regional planning. The paper also indicates the potential future research areas.
... Além disso, as cidades estão geralmente situadas em regiões de alta biodiversidade e endemismo de espécies (McDONALD et al., 2014), sendo locais que abrigam uma biodiversidade significativa por todo o mundo. No Brasil, por exemplo, a Mata Atlântica (MT) é um hotspot de biodiversidade (MYERS et al., 2000) que abriga cerca de 60% da população e onde estão localizadas 38 das 50 maiores cidades do país (IBGE, 2013(IBGE, , 2016. ...
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The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a South American native rodent with an outstanding capacity to colonize urban environments. In Curitiba, a city worldwide known for its urban planning, the capybara adaptation comprises an interesting case to better understand the challenges in addressing Aichi targets at the local level. Specialized literature, official data and interviews indicate that this species is spreading throughout parks interconnected by rivers. This study illustrates an intricate relationship between capybaras and the urban socio-ecological environment, suggesting that the city only partially addresses Aichi targets. Local authorities are likely to face several challenges for adopting a global agenda on biodiversity. Producing robust knowledge on the urban biota is one fundamental step towards this goal.
... ‫انداز‬ ( Rusch et al., 2010;García-Feced et al., 2015Geri et al., 2010) . ( Costanza et al., 2014;McDonald et al., 2014 ) . ...
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This paper investigated the temporal variation and implications of agricultural land use with ecosystem services in the Hamadan–Bahar plain. Based on the use of aerial photographs from 1968 and Landsat images from 2016 land cover data products, the similarities and differences in the impacts of land cover change on ecosystem service values (ESV) at 167 km2 were investigated. There was a marked reduction of Semi-natural lands by approximately 94% within 48 years, while the residential and industrial lands increased by over 631%. Consequent upon the large decrease in semi-natural land areas, the greatest loss in ESV (12 million dollars) occurred. This is because this service has the highest estimated coefficient. In 1968 and 2016, the estimated cost for the total ecosystem services were 71.8 and 64.3 million dollars per year, respectively. This made it possible to estimate the loss of ESV due to land use change at 7.5 million dollars per year (9.38 dollars per hectare per year). However, there was no significant change in the patch densities (ecological buffer zones) indicator. Although the decline has been recorded, the average number of these areas has decreased from 49.3 in 1968 to 34.3 in 2016. In conclusion, it is recommended that land use and land cover policy should be made for future economic ‎development programs, along with the protection of natural and semi-natural areas as well as ‎diversity.‎
... The direct effects of urban expansion on biodiversity are complex, including loss of habitat area and connectedness, and changes in disturbance regimes and invasive exotic spread (McDonald et al., 2009). The greatest impact of urban expansion on global biodiversity is likely the reduction of habitat area for species with small ranges that have the misfortune of being located near expanding urban areas (Elmqvist et al., 2013;McDonald et al., 2015). Moreover, because urban areas are preferentially located in areas of high productivity (Luck, 2007a(Luck, , 2007b, as well as near coastlines and on islands (McDonald, 2008), the global impact of urban areas on biodiversity is disproportionately high. ...
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Earth is undergoing unprecedented urban growth, with urban areas forecasted to increase by 120 million ha from 2000 to 2030, impacting natural habitat. However, to date it is unclear where conservation investments can best mitigate biodiversity loss due to urban expansion into natural habitat. Here we combine spatially-explicit global forecasts of urban expansion, information on terrestrial vertebrate endemism, and data on current land cover and protected areas to define conservation priorities. Globally, 13% of endemics are in ecoregions under high threat from urban expansion. Biodiversity losses are highly spatially concentrated, with 78% of endemics threatened by urban growth occurring in just 30 priority ecoregions (4% of all ecoregions). Natural habitat protection of 4.1–8.0 million ha, <7% of total forecasted urban expansion, would be needed in these priority ecoregions. As an added benefit, such protection would also reduce GHG emissions by an amount worth up to 87.6 billion USD.
... There is a growing worldwide concern on how to reduce the harmful effects of economic development and urbanization on the natural ecosystems and the services they provide. However, a major challenge is that many of the services supplied by these ecosystems are public goods not captured by the market, thus, their economic values are not well understood (Costanza et al., 2014;McDonald et al., 2014;Yi et al., 2017). Quantifying ecosystem services and analyzing changes in their values is an important decision-support tool for the sustainable use of land (Förster et al., 2015) as it provides a useful approach for a complete evaluation of tradeoffs between alternative land-use options (Yi et al., 2017;de Groot et al., 2012). ...
The preceding chapters each focused on an individual ecosystem service, describing how to map important habitats for service provision, how to value the service, and how to implement and monitor ecosystem service programs. Having completed our whirlwind tour of key ecosystem services in cities, what is next? For some cities that have focused primarily on one ecosystem service, this may be the endpoint. Perhaps they have developed a good conservation program around that one ecosystem service and are content just to maintain and refine this program over time. However, cities that have identified multiple ecosystem services of importance may want to find a way to merge information and programs from disparate ecosystem services into one coherent vehicle.
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Africa, a continent exceptionally rich in biodiversity, is rapidly urbanizing. Africa’s urbanization is manifest in the growth of its megacities as well as that of its smaller towns and cities. The conservation planning and practice will increasingly need to account for direct and indirect impacts of the continent’s urbanization. The objective of our study is to pinpoint the outstanding challenges and opportunities afforded by the growing cities on the continent to the conservation goals and practices. While these issues have previously been addressed in many studies they tended to focus on specific issues. Here, we provide a synthesis of these supported by new analysis. Urban areas, growing both in population and in land cover, pose threats to the integrity of the continent’s ecosystems and biodiversity but their growth also create opportunities for conservation. The burgeoning urban populations, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, increase the strain on already insufficient infrastructure and bring new governance challenges. Yet, Africa’s ecosystems can serve as foundations for green infrastructure to serve the needs of its urban populations while safeguarding fragile biodiversity. Overall, while worsening social problems overshadow the concerns for biodiversity there are also promising initiatives to bring these concerns into the fold to address social, institutional, and ecological challenges that emerge with the continued urbanization of the continent.
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Several studies in recent years have forecasted global urban expansion and examined its potential impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The amount of urban land near protected areas (PAs) is expected to increase, on average, by more than three times between 2000 and 2030 (from 450,000 km2circa 2000) around the world. During the same time period, the urban land in biodiversity hotspots, areas with high concentrations of endemic species, will increase by about four times on average. China will likely become the nation with the most urban land within 50 km of its PAs by 2030. The largest proportional change, however, will likely be in Mid-Latitudinal Africa; its urban land near PAs will increase 20 ± 5 times by 2030. The largest urban expansion in biodiversity hotspots, an increase of over 100,000 km2, is forecasted to occur in South America. The forecasts of the amount and location of urban land expansion are subject to many uncertainties in their underlying drivers including urban population and economic growth. Nevertheless, the direct impacts of urban expansion on biodiversity and ecosystem services will likely be significant. The forecasts point to the need to reconcile urban development and biodiversity conservation strategies. Urbanization will also have impacts on food and food security. While the direct loss of cropland to urban expansion is of concern to the extent that high-yielding croplands are lost, the indirect impacts of urbanization due to dietary changes to more meat-based food products can also be substantial. Presently, regional and global studies that forecast impacts of future urban expansion on biodiversity and ecosystem services are in their infancy and more analyses are needed especially focusing on interactive effects of factors that drive urbanization. We conclude by highlighting the knowledge gaps on implications of future urbanization and suggest research directions that would help fill these gaps.
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Urban areas harbour diverse nature ranging from semi-natural habitats to wastelands, parks and other highly human-in¯uenced biotopes with their associated species assemblages. Maintenance of this urban biodiversity for the residents and for its intrinsic value in the face of increasing population and expanding cities requires that ecological knowledge should be better integrated into urban planning. To achieve this goal understanding of ecological patterns and processes in urban ecosystems is needed. The ®rst step in the necessary urban ecological research is to ®nd out what kind of nature exists in cities. Second, knowledge about ecological processes important in urban nature is required. Although ecological processes in cities are the same as in rural areas, some of them, such as invasion by alien species, are more prevalent in urban than in rural conditions. Third, based on ecological knowledge, management schemes maintaining the diversity of urban nature should be designed. These procedures should also include protection of urban nature, e.g. in urban national parks. Finally, as ecology alone cannot provide the complex information about human in¯uence on urban ecosystems, interdisciplinary research involving natural and social sciences is imperative for a holistic approach to integrating ecology into the process of urban planning.
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Conservation planning in the Eastern Himalaya has taken strides forward during the past one decade. This particularly refers to cooperation for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development for the transboundary conservation landscapes. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development has been facilitating discussion amongst stakeholders including government officials from India, Nepal, China and Bhutan for regional cooperation on transboundary biodiversity conservation. Kangchenjunga complex has been identified as an important transboundary landscape in the Eastern Himalaya. Geographically, it spreade over the natural and national boundaries of Nepal, India, Bhutan and Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. In its southern half there are 14 important protected areas within the landscape and also remnant areas with high biological diversity. Landscape conservation for connecting nine of the 14 protected areas by establishing biological corridors has been promoted. Participatory processes revealed that the transboundary biodiversity conservation is a necessity in the present straddling conservation and sustainable development arena. Kangchenjunga transboundary biodiversity conservation landscape initiative is enhancing regional cooperation for conservation in the landscape. This paper highlights the paradigm shift in conservation while analyzing landscape heterogeneity, conservation corridor linkages and their potentials, and socio-cultural and economic opportunities in the Kangchenjunga landscape.
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We studied how regional, road and forestry planning sectors work to implement policies about biodiversity conservation and public participation. Evaluations were based on a normative model for planning derived from the existing international policies and relevant literature. Key planning actors were then interviewed with regard to their understanding of biodiversity and participation policies as well as ability to act and willingness to implement them. The results indicate several gaps in planning processes, for example, insufficient knowledge about biodiversity conservation and participation, limited resources and tools for planning of functional habitat networks and collaboration, poor connections between local and regional planning, and weakly developed public participation. The main problem for effective policy implementation seems to be related to planners' ability to act, which indicates that relatively low priority was given to provide resources for biodiversity conservation and public participation by the relevant units. We discuss our findings in relation to the implementation of environmental policies in the new EU countries of Eastern and Central Europe.
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The present focus of practical conservation efforts is limited in scope. This narrowness results in an inability to evaluate and manage phenomena that operate at large spatiotemporal scales. Whereas real ecological phenomena function in a space-time mosaic across a full hierarchy of biological entities and processes, current conservation strategies address a limited spectrum of this complexity. Conservation typically is static (time-limited), concentrates on the habitat content rather than the landscape context of protected areas, evaluates relatively homogeneous communities instead of heterogeneous landscapes, and directs attention to particular species populations and/or the aggregate statistic of species diversity. Insufficient attention has been given to broad ecological patterns and processes and to the conservation of species in natural relative abundance patterns (native diversity). The authors present a conceptual scheme that evaluates not only habitat content within protected areas, but also the landscape context in which each preserve exists. Nodes of concentrated ecological value exist in each landscape at all levels in the biological hierarchy. Integration of these high-quality nodes into a functional network is possible through the establishment of a system of interconnected multiple-use modules (MUMs). The MUM network protects and buffers important ecological entities and phenomena, while encouraging movement of individuals, species, nutrients, energy, and even habitat patches across space and time. An example is presented for the southeastern USA (south Georgia-north Florida), that uses riparian and coastal corridors to interconnect existing protected areas. This scheme will facilitate reintroduction and preservation of wide-ranging species such as the Florida panther, and help reconcile species-level and ecosystem-level conservation approaches.
According to a national report on brownfi elds redevelopment titled Recycling America's Land (USCM 2006), more than 400,000 sites with real or perceived environmental hazards dot the American landscape today. That legacy is estimated to be worth more than $2 trillion in devalued property. Underlying this legacy is a major network of post- war infrastructures-airports, harbours, roads, sewers, bridges, dikes, dams, power corridors, terminals, treatment plants-that is now suffering major decay from lack of repair and maintenance (ASCE 2008, Infrastructure Canada 2007-2008, Choate and Walter 1983). In revisiting a series of milestone events in the history of North America, this paper draws a cross- section through phases of industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries in order to track how the necessity for infrastructure accidentally emerged from crisis and failure. A series of patterns and shifts are identifi ed to expose the paradoxical, sometimes toxic relationship between pre- industrial landscape conditions and modern industrial systems. The underlying objective of this essay is to redefi ne the conventional meaning of modern infrastructure by amplifying the biophysical landscape that it has historically suppressed, and to reformulate landscape as a sophisticated, instrumental system of essential resources, services, and agents that generate and support urban economies. Three contemporary streams of development including urban ecologies, bio- industries, and waste economies are explored briefl y to discuss future fi elds of practice. © 2009 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.
City governments are fundamental to implement international environmental agreements, such as the convention on biological diversity (CBD). Even though many of them are not directly involved in the negotiation of international agreements, which are signed by national governments, most of those agreements are in fact implemented at the city level. The importance of city governance to tackle the challenges of biodiversity loss has increased as urban population has grown enormously in the last decades, particularly in developing countries. The way cities are designed, planned and governed influences the magnitude of their direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity.This paper analyzes the relationship between cities, local governance and biodiversity. Initially, we examine the relationships between cities and biodiversity by looking at the major influences cities have on biodiversity loss or conservation within and outside the city boundaries, as well as the benefits of biodiversity conservation to cities, such as the provision of ecosystem services. The paper then moves to understand what are the main urban processes and governance mechanisms that can be improved to make cities effective to implement the directives of the CBD.Urbanization creates new challenges for biodiversity conservation. As a large part of the world’s population moves from rural to urban areas, there are changes in the link between human activities and biodiversity, and consequently to the way we should think biodiversity conservation policies. However, scarce attention has been given to understand how to make cities more biodiversity friendly, both within the urban fabric, but particularly in faraway places.
This book introduces an interdisciplinary framework to understand the interaction between terrestrial ecosystems and climate change. It reviews basic meteorological, hydrological and ecological concepts to examine the physical, chemical and biological processes by which terrestrial ecosystems affect and are affected by climate. The textbook is written for advanced undergraduate and graduate students studying ecology, environmental science, atmospheric science and geography. The central argument is that terrestrial ecosystems become important determinants of climate through their cycling of energy, water, chemical elements and trace gases. This coupling between climate and vegetation is explored at spatial scales from plant cells to global vegetation geography and at timescales of near instantaneous to millennia. The text also considers how human alterations to land become important for climate change. This restructured edition, with updated science and references, chapter summaries and review questions, and over 400 illustrations, including many in colour, serves as an essential student guide.