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A framework for assessing urban greenery's effects and valuing its ecosystem services

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Ongoing urban exploitation is increasing pressure to transform urban green spaces, while there is increasing awareness that greenery provides a range of important benefits to city residents. In efforts to help resolve associated problems we have developed a framework for integrated assessments of ecosystem service (ES) benefits and values provided by urban greenery, based on the ecosystem service cascade model. The aim is to provide a method for assessing the contribution to, and valuing, multiple ES provided by urban greenery that can be readily applied in routine planning processes. The framework is unique as it recognizes that an urban greenery comprises several components and functions that can contribute to multiple ecosystem services in one or more ways via different functional traits (e.g. foliage characteristics) for which readily measured indicators have been identified. The framework consists of five steps including compilation of an inventory of indicator; application of effectivity factors to rate indicators' effectiveness; estimation of effects; estimation of benefits for each ES; estimation of the total ES value of the ecosystem. The framework was applied to assess ecosystem services provided by trees, shrubs, herbs, birds, and bees, in green areas spanning an urban gradient in Gothenburg, Sweden. Estimates of perceived values of ecosystem services were obtained from interviews with the public and workshop activities with civil servants. The framework is systematic and transparent at all stages and appears to have potential utility in the existing spatial planning processes.
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Research article
A framework for assessing urban greenery's effects and valuing its
ecosystem services
Yvonne Andersson-Sk
, Jenny Klingberg
, Bengt Gunnarsson
, Kevin Cullinane
Ingela Gustafsson
, Marcus Hedblom
, Igor Knez
, Fredrik Lindberg
, Åsa Ode Sang
Håkan Pleijel
, Pontus Thorsson
,Soa Thorsson
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Box 460, SE 405 30 G
oteborg, Sweden
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Box 461, SE 405 30 G
oteborg, Sweden
School of Business Economics and Law, Box 610, University of Gothenburg, SE 405 30 G
oteborg, Sweden
City of Gothenburg, Parks and Landscape Administration, Box 177, 401 22 G
oteborg, Sweden
Department of Forest Resource Management, Landscape Analysis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7044, SE 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Department of Social Work and Psychology, H
ogskolan i G
avle, SE 801 76 G
avle, Sweden
Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 66, SE 230 53 Alnarp, Sweden
Division of Applied Acoustics, Chalmers University of Technology, SE 412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden
Urban Climate Group, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Box 460, SE 405 30 G
oteborg, Sweden
Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden
article info
Article history:
Received 8 April 2017
Received in revised form
17 September 2017
Accepted 26 September 2017
Available online 8 October 2017
Ecosystem service effects
Ecosystem service valuation
Urban greenery
Case study application
Ongoing urban exploitation is increasing pressure to transform urban green spaces, while there is
increasing awareness that greenery provides a range of important benets to city residents. In efforts to
help resolve associated problems we have developed a framework for integrated assessments of
ecosystem service (ES) benets and values provided by urban greenery, based on the ecosystem service
cascade model. The aim is to provide a method for assessing the contribution to, and valuing, multiple ES
provided by urban greenery that can be readily applied in routine planning processes. The framework is
unique as it recognizes that an urban greenery comprises several components and functions that can
contribute to multiple ecosystem services in one or more ways via different functional traits (e.g. foliage
characteristics) for which readily measured indicators have been identied. The framework consists of
ve steps including compilation of an inventory of indicator; application of effectivity factors to rate
indicators' effectiveness; estimation of effects; estimation of benets for each ES; estimation of the total
ES value of the ecosystem. The framework was applied to assess ecosystem services provided by trees,
shrubs, herbs, birds, and bees, in green areas spanning an urban gradient in Gothenburg, Sweden. Es-
timates of perceived values of ecosystem services were obtained from interviews with the public and
workshop activities with civil servants. The framework is systematic and transparent at all stages and
appears to have potential utility in the existing spatial planning processes.
©2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND
license (
1. Introduction
Urbanization has become one of the most extensive and per-
manent land-use changes globally, causing increasing pressure to
transform green spaces in or near cities (UN, 2014; World Bank,
2015). However, urban greenery provides a range of social and
environmental services that benet city residents and visitors
(Kabisch et al., 2015). The potential synergies and conicts arising
from the benets of urban green areas and demand for their
exploitation pose challenges for sustainable urban development
and initiatives to maintain or improve human well-being. A concept
that has received increasing attention and can help efforts to
address these challenges is ecosystem services (ES) (Haase et al.,
2014; Kabisch et al., 2015; Luederitz et al., 2015). The ES concept
*Corresponding author. Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute
(VTI), Box 8072, SE-417 55 Gothenburg, Sweden.
E-mail address: (Y. Andersson-Sk
Current address: Gothenburg Botanical Garden, Carl Skottsbergs gata 22A, SE-
41319 Gothenburg, Sweden.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Environmental Management
journal homepage:
0301-4797/©2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285
embraces all the interlinked aspects of ecological structures with
functions that are advantageous to humans (services), and thus
contribute to human well-being (benets) (MEA, 2005; Potschin
and Haines-Young, 2011; TEEB, 2010). The ES cascade model may
also be helpful. This captures the view that a production chain
links biophysical structures and processes to the benets and
values of the services a considered system provides (Fig. 1). For
example, an ecosystem such as urban woodland may have the ca-
pacity (function) of slowing the passage of surface water, thereby
reducing ooding in cities (service), which provides benets to
humans. The value of these benets (and, thus, preceding links in
the chain) depends on time- and place-related factors that can be
summarised as supply and demand. The cascade model also in-
cludes feedback loops, based on assumptions that services' values
will impact the ecosystem, e.g. high demand for provisional ser-
vices will result in high pressure on them. However, the pressure
imposed on ecosystems can be modied through policy actions
(Potschin and Haines-Young, 2011).
The aims of ES valuation are to unravel the complexities of
socio-ecological relationships, recognize how human decisions
impact perceived values of services, and express them in units that
allow incorporation in planning and decision-making (Mooney
et al., 2005; TEEB, 2010). Various methods can be used to esti-
mate the value of ES, all of which have limitations because of the
difculties in quantifying most ES. Their values can be determined
in monetary terms, such as current market prices, e.g. market prices
for biofuel and timber, or estimates of costs that would be incurred
if the services had to be created by articial means (TEEB, 2010).
This direct approach cannot be applied to various other ES (such as
well-being and aesthetic appreciation) that do not have any market
prices, but their monetary values can be estimated using proxies,
e.g. travel costs, or hedonic pricing methods (TEEB, 2010; Goulder
and Kennedy, 2011). Alternatively, non-monetary choice prefer-
ence methods can be used to estimate most non-market ES values.
These methods include perception ranking analysis and attitude
rating, which are regarded as useful for probing perceived values
and preferences regarding possible planning options (e.g. García-
Llorente et al., 2008; TEEB, 2010).
In addition, multi-criteria methods for assessing ES based on
Corine (Coordination of information on the environment) Land
Cover (CLC) have been recently developed. They have been applied,
for example, to estimate a region's contribution to provisioning
services as well as climate regulation, air quality, water regulation,
recreational facilities, aesthetic appeal and biodiversity, based on
stakeholder-based weighting to reect the relative importance of
the investigated ES (Koschke et al., 2012). CLC data have also been
applied to estimate gradients of cooling potential, carbon seques-
tration and available recreational area in four European cities
(Larondelle and Haase, 2013).
Few studies have covered all the sequential steps related to
urban ES, including links between ecological structures, their
functions, performance and values to humans (Luederitz et al.,
2015). However, during the last decade various models have been
developed to quantify and value urban ES. One example is the i-Tree
urban forest management tool
(developed from the UFORE model,
Nowak et al., 2008) for assessing integrated benets of services
provided by urban trees (such as removal of atmospheric carbon
dioxide and storm-water reduction), valuing the services in mon-
etary terms. The results have been applied for several purposes,
such as assessing and visualizing the benets of trees and the
impact of land use changes (e.g. Nowak et al., 2014a; Hilde and
Paterson, 2014).
Despite the availability of models such as the i-Tree model,
further development of appropriate methods for integrated quan-
tication of benets and valuation, including additional potential
services and urban biophysical structure components other than
trees, is still required (Haase et al., 2014; Luederitz et al., 2015).
Further, both CLC- and i-Tree-based analyses require detailed
modelling, which may hinder their use in local urban management.
To address the requirement for methods that can be more readily
applied, we present a method to integrate regulating ES (pollina-
tion, local climate regulation, air pollution control, noise reduction,
storm water management) and cultural ES, allowing inclusion of
additional ES not considered here. The method is a systematic
process involving description of urban green structure components
(trees, bushes, herbs, bees, birds) contributing to ES through
functional trait indicators and a sequence of subsequent steps
Fig. 1. The cascade model framework for ecosystem valuation modied from TEEB (2010) and Potschin and Haines-Young (2011).**.
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285 275
described in the following section.
Our aim is to provide a method for valuing multiple ES provided
by urban greenery. The method is intended to be practically
applicable in routine planning processes to enable planners to
make well-informed trade-offs. It aims, for example, to be used to
make rough assessments of effects of potential land use changes
and designs in comprehensive plans and detailed land use plans or
as a tool to increase the communication between municipal civil
servants from different disciplines and units involved in the spatial
planning process or to identify gradients and lack of ecosystem
services in urban areas.
2. Framework of the method
The method involves several stepsdesigned to link measured
abundances of urban green structure components to functions
delivering ES, by means of functional traits, i.e. phenotypic char-
acteristics of groups of organisms that are considered relevant to
such organisms' responses to the environment and/or their effects
on ecosystem properties (e.g. Dıaz et al., 2013; Duncan et al., 2015).
It should be noted here that mechanistic understanding of various
species' contributions to ecosystem functions is crucial for robust
assessments of multiple ES (see e.g. Lavorel et al., 2011).
To estimate abundances of functional traits, a number of rele-
vant indicators have been identied. Some of the indicators are
directly related to functional traits (e.g. canopy cover), but others
are indirect indicators linked to the species' variation. The ES and
functional trait indicators were selected according to identied
needs for better understanding of relations between functional
traits, ES effect and ES values, and the ease of obtaining relevant
empirical information.
The framework of the method is based on the cascade model
presented by TEEB (2010) and Potschin and Haines-Young (2011),
taking into account the effectiveness of indicators' contributions to
considered ES. The method is intended to be generically applicable
and easy to use in planning processes, environmental impact as-
sessments (EIA), and any other cases where understanding of
ecosystems' current or potential services and values is required. It
can be applied both for individual sites and estimates of gradients
of services or values over a city or other urban area. It involves the
following ve steps (Fig. 2):
1) Compilation of an inventory of indicator abundances at the
2) Application of effectivity factors to rate indicators' effectiveness
3) Estimation of the effects for each ES
4) Estimation of the benets for each ES
5) Estimation of the total ES value at the site(s)
2.1. Steps 1e3 - estimation of effects
To estimate a site's potential contribution to (investigated) ES
the abundance of each indicator, e.g. leaf area or the abundance of
birds or bee species, and their ability to contribute to the consid-
ered service(s) must be estimated. An indicator's ability to
contribute to a service is here referred to as the indicator effectivity
factor (f(i,j)). The resulting effect, E(i,j) is, calculated using the
following equation:
E(i,j) is the effect (the resulting contribution) to ES j provided by
indicator i
A(i) is the abundance of indicator i, and
f(i,j) is the effectivity factor, describing the ability of indicator i
to contribute to ES j
2.2. Step 4 ebenet estimation
The benetBði;jÞ;of a certain indicator, i, depends both on the
estimated effect Eði;jÞand the value of the specic ES:
where v(j) is the perceived value of ES(j).
2.3. Step 5 etotal value
The total ES value, V, of ecosystem services assessed at a site is
then the sum of the benets of the considered services:
Thus, a stepwise process based on the abundance and effectivity
of individual functional trait indicators provides a generic frame-
work that can be applied to estimate the total benet and value of
an ecosystem (Fig. 2).
3. Framework application
3.1. Study sites
To test the framework's applicability, it was used to assess the
benet and value of seven green sites in the Swedish city Goth-
enburg (57
N, 11
E), which has approximately 540 000 in-
habitants. It is a green city, where there is a green area covering
10 ha within 300 m of homes of 58% of the population (SCB, 2010).
However, there is strong urban densication pressure on the city's
green areas (SCB, 2010). The seven study sites (Fig. 3) span a large
gradient of urban green spaces, including a suburban forest, old
central park, allotment gardens, green yards in a residential area
and a small green area surrounded by busy roads and industrial
estates (hereafter called infrastructural green space). Detailed in-
formation about the study sites is presented in Supplementary
Table S1, and the ve steps of the analysis are presented in the
following sections.
3.1.1. Step 1- compilation of an inventory of indicator abundances
In the rst step, the abundance of each selected indicator is
estimated. Here, we rst describe how the indicators were identi-
ed (from the literature) and selected, then how their abundances
A(i,j) were empirically estimated at each study site. Both the in-
dicators and empirical methods have been selected for applicability
to any urban biophysical structure. Identied regulating ES indicators. Leaf area is an important
plant canopy characteristic that is widely applied in ecological
analyses and has proven importance for predicting several regu-
lating ES (Dobbs et al., 2011; Gomez-Baggethun and Barton, 2013).
These include removal of air pollutants via deposition (e.g.
Burkhard et al., 2012), wind reduction and cooling by both shading
and transpiration (e.g. Hardin and Jensen, 2007; Konarska et al.,
2014). It is also a robust predictor of water storage during and af-
ter rainfall events (Keim et al., 2006).
The amount of foliage of a vegetated surface is conventionally
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285276
Fig. 2. Framework for benet assessment and valuation of ES.
Fig. 3. Location of Gothenburg and the seven green areas selected for the study. Spatial characteristics of the study sites in terms of nearby buildings and tree canopy height are
shown. The study sites are numbered according to their ID numbers in Table S1: 1) Suburban woodland, 2) Urban woodland, 3) Urban park, 4) Allotment area, 5) Infrastructural
green space, 6) Urban park and woodland, 7) Residential area. Adapted from Klingberg et al. (2017a). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this gure legend, the reader is
referred to the web version of this article.)
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285 277
described by the leaf area index (LAI), the projected (one-sided) leaf
area per unit ground area (Monteith and Unsworth, 2008). LAI can
be an appropriate indicator of the area of foliage available for
photosynthesis, transpiration and deposition of air pollutants.
However, LAI data can be time-consuming and costly to obtain
compared to accurate, high-resolution canopy cover datasets
(Klingberg et al., 2017a), which may be acceptable substitutes in
some cases.
Water retardation through storage and soil evaporation is
related to the surface permeability (EEA, 2015; Olsson et al., 2013;
Peng et al., 2016), and leaf area through transpiration (Benyon
and Doody, 2015; Zhang et al., 1999, 2001). The pollination of
plants in urban and rural areas is highly dependent on the presence
of insect pollinators, both honeybees and wild insects (Matteson
and Langellotto, 2009; Garibaldi et al., 2013). Thus, a pertinent in-
dicator is the total abundance of honeybees, bumblebees and sol-
itary bees. The identied regulating indicators (i) are presented in
Table 1. Identied cultural ES indicators. Natural environments are
known to have positive health effects and stimulate physical ac-
tivities (Bell et al., 2008), but few quantitative correlations between
these effects and specic biophysical structures (trees, shrubs etc.)
have been published. In addition, physical places (e.g. urban green
spaces) and time spent in such places can anchor people's remi-
niscences by forming psychological person-place ties (Blicharska
et al., 2017; Knez, 2014). These ties are emotional and cognitive
bonds that ground our personal memories and thus our life-stories
(who we are) (Merleau-Ponty, 1945).
Recent ndings, of studies focusing on the sites considered here
(Ode Sang et al., 2016) and other settings (e.g. Sandifer et al., 2015),
have shown that perceived naturalness is positively correlated with
recreational and aesthetical values including physical activities,
visual aesthetic values and self-reported well-being. Well-being is
here dened broadly, including a state of physical, mental and so-
cial comfort and happiness (WHO, 1946 in Sandifer et al., 2015) and
cultural identity (MEA, 2005; Sandifer et al., 2015).
Diversity of habitats and species is known to promote abilities to
reect and strengthen place-identication (Sandifer et al., 2015;
Knez et al., submitted). Accordingly, recent studies focused on the
sites considered here have also shown that people's valuation of
green spaces is signicantly correlated with estimates of biodiver-
sity based on surveys of trees, bushes, herbs, birds and bees
(Gunnarsson et al., 2017). Moreover, the perceived aesthetic and
auditory appeal of urban greenery reportedly correlates with sub-
categories of high, medium and lowdiversity of these compo-
nents (Gunnarsson et al., 2017). In addition, urban settings are
appreciated more if bird songs are heard, especially if multiple
species are heard (Hedblom et al., 2014). It was also recently shown
that bird song and trees rustling make people feel calm, and that
visible and audible experiences of urban greenery are connected
(Hedblom et al., 2017). Empirical measurements of indicator abundance Regulating indicators. At each study site the leaf area
index (LAI) and canopy cover were estimated from aerial LiDAR
(light detection and ranging) data covering Gothenburg munici-
pality acquired in 2010. Using laser penetration metrics, high res-
olution maps of canopy cover (1 m) and LAI (10 m) were produced
following Klingberg et al. (2017a). Permeable surface (%) estimates
were acquired from map information, and soil types were esti-
mated using wet sieved soil samples collected at the study sites,
following procedures presented by Van Kleef (2017). Densities of
bees were estimated from point counts at each site (three points,
three times in each site), as detailed by Gunnarsson et al. (2017). Cultural indicators. At each study site, the diversity of
birds and densities of tree, shrub and herb species were estimated,
as follows. Numbers of songbirds observed in point counts at each
site were recorded, and their diversities were estimated using
Simpson's index (1/D), as recommended by Magurran (2004).
Trees, shrubs and herbs were surveyed in circular plots with radii of
20, 10 and 0.28 m, in accordance with the National Inventory of
Landscapes in Sweden monitoring program (Ståhl et al., 2011).
Data pertaining to trees and shrubs were collected in 2e4 plots,
and data pertaining to herbs in 6e12 plots per site, depending on
the size and heterogeneity of the sites. Songbirds were counted at
two points three times in each site, as further described by
Gunnarsson et al. (2017).
We would prefer, The measured abundances are shown in
supplementary material (Table S2). To allow analyses of the indi-
cator abundances with a common scale, applicable for all types of
indicators, we normalised the results by dividing the indicator
abundance (or species density) recorded at each site by the
maximum recorded across the seven sites. Thus, the possible range
of values for each indicator was 0e1.0.
3.1.2. Step 2 eapplication of effectivity factors to rate indicators'
Contributions of the function associated with a given indicator
(functional trait indicator) to a given ES depend on the abundance
of the indicator and its effectivity, here expressed by effectivity
factors (f(i,j)) on a 3-point scale: 1 (weak), 2 (moderate) and 3
(strong). The rating is based on published evaluations. For example,
trees are well known to block solar radiation at street level
(creating shade) and to cool nearby surroundings through tran-
spiration, thereby providing effective cooling during the warmer
seasons (e.g. Ali-Toudert and Mayer, 2007; Mayer et al., 2009;
Hamada and Ohta, 2010; Lindberg and Grimmond, 2011;
Konarska et al., 2014, 2015a, 2015b). They also provide effective
wind protection (Shashua-Bar et al., 2009; Buccolieri et al., 2009),
and their leaves contribute area-dependently to removal of air
pollutants via deposition (Manes et al., 2012; Nowak et al., 2006,
2014b; Grundstr
om and Pleijel, 2014). However, the effectivity is
pollutant-dependent; leaf area has no detectable impact on the
quality of nearby air with respect to ground-level ozone (O3), weak
effect on nitrogen dioxide (NO
), and stronger effect on particulate
matter particles with <10
m diameter (PM10) (Janh
all, 2015;
Nowak et al., 2006; Grundstr
om and Pleijel, 2014; Klingberg
et al., 2017b).
Quantication of cultural ES effectivity factors (f(i,j)) is less
straightforward, since it involves both generic and rather complex
context-dependent components (Knez, 2014). Thus, to our knowl-
edge, ratings that can be applied are only available in the literature
for the regulative ES investigated here. Here, the effectivity factor
for cultural ES is arbitrarily set to medium (class 2). Further in-
depth analyses and method development to improve understand-
ing of the generic and context-dependent components are needed
to enable more rened estimates.
The effectivity factors (f(i,j)) are summarised together with the
reasoning and citations for published evaluations in Table 1.It
should be noted that the effectivity factor ratings presented in the
table are the maximum positive contributions that the indicator
can provide. In some situations, and environments, their effects
may be negative. For example, under some conditions increasing
light availability is more widely desired than cooling, or a dense
canopy with high LAI may reduce the air quality by reducing
ventilation, thereby increasing rather than reducing local air
pollutant concentrations (Andersson-Sk
old et al., 2015; G
Baggethun and Barton, 2013).
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285278
3.1.3. Step 3 - estimation of effects
Effects of the indicators, E(i,j), are calculated using Eq. (1) in
conjunction with the normalised abundances and effectivity factors.
The results obtained in our study (using effectivity factors listed in
Table 1) for effects of regulating ES, cultural ES (related to the
diversity of birds, trees, shrubs and herbs), and total effects are
shown in Fig. 4. The results indicate that at all sites, apart from the
residential area, regulating ES have the highest effect, both reect-
ing the importance of LAI at these sites (Table 1) and that more
regulating than cultural ES currently are included in the framework.
Table 1
Biophysical structure components contributing to the ES included in this study, related functions, indicators (i) included in this study and effectivity factors (f) (see next
Function Functional trait
indicator (i)
Effectivity factor (f)ES
Bees Pollination: Bees are highly important for pollination
(Matteson and Langellotto 2009; Garibaldi et al., 2013).
Bees' abundance þ3 Success of urban
Urban trees Wind reduction: Leaves are effective wind reducers
(Shashua-Bar et al., 2009; Buccolieri et al., 2009).
LAI (m
)þ3 Local climate
: Leaves contribute to cooling through provision of
shade and transpiration during the warmer seasons (Ali-
Toudert and Mayer, 2007, Hardin and Jensen, 2007;
Konarska et al., 2014; Gillner et al., 2015) and the combined
cooling effect is very high (Mayer et al., 2009; Hamada and
Ohta, 2010; Konarska et al., 2015a, 2015b).
LAI (m
(For transpiratory
cooling an
alternative is
permeable surface
surrounding the
tree (m
number of trees/
Air pollution mitigation
: Leaves contribute to air pollution
mitigation through deposition on leaves (Burkhard et al.,
2012; Kandziora et al., 2013; Hirabayashi et al., 2012).
LAI (m
) Undetectable for
, low for NO
(þ1) (Grundstr
and Pleijel, 2014;
Klingberg et al.,
2017b), stronger for
PM10 (þ2)
et al., 2015; Janh
Air quality
Noise scattering and absorption: Leaves contribute, but
have weaker effects than distances from sources (Kang
et al., 2011; Kim et al., 2014).
Leaf area density
(LAD) (m
) and
tree canopy volume
þ1 Noise reduction
Water retention: Transpiration and interception (EEA,
2015; Konarska et al., 2015b; Peng et al., 2016; Zhang et al.,
1999, 2001) are highly effective during long precipitation
periods, and less effective for extreme precipitation. Also
less effective than high amounts of highly permeable
surfaces (e.g. Peng et al., 2016; Zhang et al., 2001; Van Kleef,
2017; Abda Amin, 2017).
LAI (m
) or the
permeable surface
surrounding the
tree (m
number of
þ2 during long
periods, þ1 for
Water regulation
Audial contribution to wellbeing. Rustling trees calms
people (Hedblom et al., 2017). The rustling depends on the
amount (and type of) leaves, here assumed to be correlated
to the canopy cover.
Canopy cover (m
)þ2 Recreation and
mental and
physical health
Diversity of species Audial contribution to wellbeing: Bird song by different
species contributes to calmness (Hedblom et al., 2017) and
appreciation of the urban setting (Hedblom et al., 2014).
Diversity of
songbirds (1/D)
Visual contribution to health and mental well-being (e.g.
relaxation, calmness, ability to reect, self-reported well-
being and place identication): Species diversity (Sandifer
et al., 2015; Ode Sang et al., 2016; Knez et al., submitted,
Gunnarsson et al., 2017). Here based on diversity of trees,
shrubs and herbs.
Number of tree
Number of shrub
Number of herb
Contribution to aesthetic value: Based here on subdivision
by Gunnarsson et al. (2017) of measured high, medium and
low species diversity of trees, shrubs and herbs.
Number of tree
þ2 Aesthetic
appreciation and
inspiration for
culture, art and
Number of shrub
Number of herb
Ground cover and
Water storage and soil evaporation through permeable
surfaces and highly permeable soil (EEA, 2015; Olsson
et al., 2013; Peng et al., 2016). The effectiveness depends on
the amount of permeable surface. For large areas, it is more
effective than evaporation and transpiration, but less
effective than retardation ponds or steep slopes (Peng et al.,
2016; Van Kleef, 2017; Abda Amin, 2017).
Permeable surface
þ2 Water regulation
Note that in some situations and environments the effectivity can be negative for this indicator.
The transpiratory cooling associated with stomatal conductance (and hence transpiration rates) is highly correlated to the permeable surface surrounding the tree,
Konarska et al., 2015b.
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285 279
However, the other indicators also contribute to the effects. For
example, effects of regulating ES are similar at sites 1 and 2, but the
diversity of trees, shrubs and herbs is higher at site 2 than at site 1,
resulting in more cultural ES and a higher total effect at site 2.
3.1.4. Step 4 - estimation of benets
A benet is something that can change people's well-being, like
health or the kinds of choices they can make. Its extent, or impor-
tance, is expressed by the value people assign to it (Potschin and
Haines-Young, 2011), expressed here as in eq. (2), i.e. B(i,j) ¼E(i,j)
*v(j), where B(i,j) is the benet and v(j) the perceived value of
ecosystem service (j).
The perceived values of the benets considered here were ob-
tained based on both the perceptions of civil servants and the
public. The aim was twofold:
1) To achieve perceived importance of individual ES
2) To compare the perceived importance of ES to other important
services in a developing city.
The perceived value of individual ES among the civil servants
was done by ranking the investigated ES at a workshop (January
2016). Eight civil servants who daily dealt with green infrastructure
and landscape planning issues in Gothenburg participated in the
workshop. Of the participants, 3 were environmental analysts
(marine, acoustics, terrestrial biology) at the Environmental
administration, 2 were project engineers at the Gothenburg Man-
agement Recycling and Water, 2 were from the Gothenburg city
planning ofce (one spatial planner and one landscape architect),
one civil servant from the Gothenburg Park and nature manage-
ment, and one landscape architect and one road architect and
designer at the Swedish road and transportation agency. The
resulting rankings were compared pairwise applying the Saaty
scale (e.g. Saaty, 2001), based on the inverted sum of the re-
spondents' rankings, and the geometric mean of the pairwise
comparisons (Ishizaka and Lusti, 2006). For example, 6 respondents
ranked perceived well-being as number 1, one ranked it as number
2 and one as number 3. The resulting sum is 11 and the inverted
result is 0.09 (9%) and set equal 9 on the Saaty scale.
The resulting geometric means are shown in Fig. 5 and Table S3.
As seen in Fig. 5 and Table S3 the importance of perceived well-
being was regarded as the most important ES among the
respondents. The perceived values of the other ES were found to be
of similar importance/weight.
The perceived importance of the investigated ES in comparison
to other important services was made in pair-wise comparisons
involving two steps: 1) determination of whether the ES or other
aspect was most important, 2) then how much more important it
was on a scale from 1 (very little) to 5 (a lot more). The averaged
results of the comparisons are shown in Table S4. The result of the
comparison was normalised applying the geometric mean of a
pairwise comparison of the results (Fig. 5 and Table S3). As seen in
Fig. 5, the importance of perceived well-being was by this method
regarded more similar in importance/weight compared to the other
ES than found in the ranking estimates.
The same process was thereafter aimed to be applied among the
public. In a rst test (February 2016) it was however found that the
number and type of questions, and the consequent response time,
was perceived as far too long and demanding. Consequently, the
public was provided a questionnaire not demanding more than
maximum 10 min to respond. In the resulting questionnaire we
investigated the importance of managing storm water and well-
being associated with urban greenery (and biodiversity per se),
relative to perceived needs to increase public transport provisions,
housing, and cultural and entertainment facilities (theatres, res-
taurants etc.). The selection is based on ongoing, and planned,
signicant densication, land use changes and infrastructure ac-
tivities in Gothenburg region initiated to facilitate population
growth, commuting, transportation of people and goods and
increasing the business in the region.
The ood risk is expected to
become severe during this century due to climate change, i.e. sea
level rise and more extreme precipitation (Andersson-Sk
old and
Davidsson, 2016a). To yet include the ES investigated here, the
comparison was complemented with asking for spontaneous rat-
ings, on a scale ranging from 1 (very little or no importance) to 5
(very important), of regulating ES, cultural ES and biodiversity per
se (Table S5).
The measures of citizens' perceived values of the benets
considered here were obtained from face-to-face interviews, using
a questionnaire, with 111 members of the public (in FebruaryeApril
Fig. 4. Estimated effects of regulating and cultural ES, at each study site based on normalised abundances (Table S2) and the effectivity factors listed in Table 1 (assuming that every
indicator contributing to cultural ES has a medium effectivity factor). The study sites are ordered as in Fig. 2 (1 ¼suburban woodland, 2 ¼urban woodland, 3 ¼urban park,
4¼allotment area, 5 ¼infrastructural green space, 6 ¼urban park &woodland, 7 ¼residential area).
(accessed 17.09.12).
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285280
The interviews were conducted at six public places in Gothen-
burg: the central bus and rail station, a suburban indoor shopping
center, a housing area, a central university area, three central parks
(two not included in our study and the urban park included in it).
No measurable deviations were found in the ratings obtained from
interviews conducted in the six different places. Thus, the resulting
rating is regarded as representative across Gothenburg (Fig. 2).
The ratings of individual ES indicate that all the considered ESs
are highly valued (average score; 4.0 out of 5, Table S5). The ES
ranked most highly was reduction in air pollution (4.6, Table S5).
Cultural ES were also regarded as highly important (4.0e4.4,
Table S5). The lowest rating was for biological control of pests and
diseases (3.4, Table S5). The resulting relative normalised impor-
tance of the individual ES is rather similar as shown in Table S3 and
Fig. 5.
The ES investigated in the comparison were too few for esti-
mating the relative normalised importance. The results indicate
that ES were also highly rated in relation to other important aspects
in the developing city Gothenburg (Fig. 6). Both the public
(N ¼111), and civil servants participating in the workshop (N ¼8),
rated them as generally more important than the other services
considered. Among the public, only increased housing was rated as
more important than biodiversity, and ES were otherwise ranked
higher than all the other aspects they were compared to (Fig. 6).
In the responses regarding the value (importance) of the ES (in
relation to both each other and increases in public transport pro-
visions, housing, and cultural and entertainment facilities) biodi-
versity per se was highly rated generally (Table S5). This indicates
that it is important to consider biodiversity per se, in urban plan-
ning processes.
3.1.5. Step 5 - total value of ES at the study sites
The total value of the ES (V) provided by each investigated area,
is the sum of the benets (B(i,j)) of all the considered ES (Eq. (3)).
Among the civil servants, despite the method employed, the
most important ES was perceived well-being (Fig. 5). This was most
pronounced in the ranking. To what degree there is a variation
Fig. 5. Perceived relative importance of individual ES applying different estimation methods.
Fig. 6. Perceived values of ES and other services according to responses of participants in a workshop with civil servants (8) and interviews with the public (111). Positive and
negative values respectively indicate that both groups regarded the ES as more important and less important than the other aspect.
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285 281
between the perceived values of individual ES depends on the
method (Fig. 5). As the perceived importance's for all the other ES
considered here are high and similar, the total estimated values at
the sites follow the pattern of the total effects (Fig. 7). Also, when
applying the perceived values based on ranking the pattern re-
mains similar. The similarities in pattern can be explained by the
fact that the regulative ES are dominating. Applying the ranking,
however, result in an increased importance of the suburban
woodland (site 1 Fig. 2). This is explained by the naturalness related
to a relatively high diversity of species at this site.
To make the framework further applicable by civil servants, for
example applying GIS, or as part of integrated assessments in EIA,
the results could be classied. Color-coding could then be used to
visualize the results in maps.
4. Discussion
In this paper, we present a framework for estimating both the ES
effects and total values of an urban ecosystem. The framework is
based on the conceptual cascade model (TEEB, 2010, Potschin and
Haines-Young, 2011) and the assumption that the functional ben-
ets provided by an ecosystem depend on both the abundances of
relevant components (represented here by selected indicators) and
their ability (described by effectiveness factors) to contribute to the
considered ES. The abundances are normalised to enable assess-
ment of effects of all types of indicators on a common scale.
Alternatively, a number of classes could be used, for assessments of
a single site (but not over a green gradient or many sites as in the
illustrative application presented here). Therelevance of a common
scale can be questioned, as the relative importance of the indicators
may vary substantially, but compensatory adjustments can be
made by applying the effectivity factors, which make the effect
estimates both convenient and generically applicable as in standard
EIA (Andersson-Sk
old et al., 2015).
The framework proved to be applicable, and easy to use, for the
study sites. However, the effects and values were largely inuenced
by the regulating ES, at least partly because more information is
available that can be used to link regulating indicators than other
indicators to effects. To allow the inclusion of more cultural ES, and
separation of indicator abundance and effectivity from valuation of
these ES, more research to untangle the complexity of greenery
components related to cultural ES such as place-bonding is needed
(see e.g. Blicharska et al., 2017; Knez and Eliasson, 2017; Knez et al.,
As shown here for the regulating ES, it may be possible to rate
effectivity factors of indicators on a scale from 1 (low effectivity, i.e.
they make little contribution to a focal ES) to 3 (high effectivity).
However, the relations involved for the cultural ES are complex, and
there are likely to be both synergistic and conicting effects, which
currently prohibit such estimates.
Furthermore, we only consider positive effects of urban green-
ery on the regulating ESs, but it may also have negative effects
(disservices), depending on its context and design. For example, it
may trap air pollutants in street canyons resulting in high local
concentrations, increase allergen exposure by releasing pollen,
cause cooling under conditions where heating is more desirable,
and dark dense foliage may reduce the feeling of safety (D'Amato,
2000; Escobedo et al., 2011; G
omez-Baggethun and Barton, 2013;
Von D
ohren and Haase, 2015). Further development of the frame-
work will allow consideration of disservices by including negative
effectivity factors, and in an even longer term, when there is more
knowledge of the complex interactions, synergetic effects could
also be included.
Clearly, ecosystems and related ESs raise highly complex issues,
and any technique for estimating associated effects and benets
can be questioned. However, the systematic approach and the
effectivity classication scale applied in the presented framework
reduce the importance of minor uncertainties and facilitate its
application in current processes such as EIA, routine mapping and
planning procedures. Thus, it may have utility either as a stand-
alone framework or as a complement or module in more
advanced process models such as the i-Tree model (Nowak et al.,
To estimate the benets we have applied priority ranking of
individual ES and perceived relative importance of the individual
ES in comparison to other aspects important for urban develop-
ment. These methods were applied among civil servants. The
ranking based method revealed the importance of perceived well-
being in comparison to other ES (Fig. 5,Table S4). Applying rating
(public) and in comparision to other important aspects in the city
(public and civil servants) the perceived values were more even
among the different ecosystem services. In a real planning process,
a ranking valuation process is recommended to be done (at least)
among the responsible spatial planners and civil servants from
impacted sectors. W also, however, nd it important to identify the
importance relative expected changes due to planned in-
terventions. The two methods complement each other. The ranking
shall be used to estimate the internal relative weights, while the
Fig. 7. Estimated total effects and total values of ecosystem services at the study sites. The maximum values for the effect and total value are 20 and 3.0, respectively. (1 ¼suburban
woodland, 2 ¼urban woodland, 3 ¼urban park, 4 ¼allotment area, 5 ¼infrastructural green space, 6 ¼urban park &woodland, 7 ¼residential area).
Y. Andersson-Sk
old et al. / Journal of Environmental Management 205 (2018) 274e285282
comparison reveals the importance of the ecosystem services in
relation to the other aspects under consideration. Such a valuation
process would contribute to increased understanding on how
different ES are valued under different contexts and potential
spatial planning strategies. Currently there is a lack of active and
transparent valuation procedures in the municipal planning and
decision process. Lack of timebeing the main self- reported
barrier (Andersson-Sk
old et al., 2013, 2016b). Therefore, simple
methods, as applied here, are recommended. The valuation method
and process must, however, be adapted to the participants and the
context. For large land use changes, it is essential to involve the
public through more site-related questionnaires, applying a more
advanced valuation methodology and/or be based on larger
The method presented here does not include non-linearities
neither in understanding the links between ecosystem functions,
indicators and effects nor regarding the valuations such as spatial
and social variations shown in needs, demands and availabilities of
ES. Greater understanding of effects, such as links to non-linearities
and the complex relations especially regarding perceived well-
being and other cultural ES (and robust ways to estimate them)
must be developed before more rened methods can be applied.
However, once the links between ecosystem components, services
and effects are better understood, suitable permutations of
methods based (for example) on monetary valuation can be used.
These may include (for appropriate types of indicators and ES)
restoration values (Elmqvist et al., 2015), avoided costs and will-
ingness to pay (G
omez-Baggethun and Barton, 2013). However,
methods like those applied here are relatively quick and conve-
nient. Furthermore, the information they provide can be readily
applied and regularly updated by urban planners, and the derived
values are independent of currency rates and indices. The utility of
preference ranking methods should also be recognized in the light
of limitations of monetary methods; notably criticism by decision-
makers that economic valuation of ecosystem services is too
simplistic, insufciently widely accepted, and awed (Marre et al.,
It should be noted that urban environments have many func-
tions and provide or inuence many ESs not considered here. For
example, Goodness et al. (2016) suggest additional plant and bird
trait indicators for aesthetic, recreational, spiritual, religious and
heritage ESs (e.g. plant/bird size, morphology and color). Provi-
sioning services in urban environments are also becoming
increasingly important for various reasons, notably urban agricul-
ture is advocated to help make cities more self-sufcient (Viljoen
and Bohn, 2014). Provisioning ESs have often been valued in rela-
tion to current market values (e.g. TEEB, 2010), but Langemeyer
(2015) shows that the major value of urban gardening, an impor-
tant part of provisioning services in cities, is entangled with cul-
tural services. Thus, valuation of urban provisioning services is also
complex and merits separate and more detailed consideration.
The effectivity factors of functional traits, synergies, inhibitory
effects and potential disservices require further investigation.
Moreover, specic ESs should be valued robustly in relation to other
relevant planning aspects in focal areas, as the values are context-
dependent. A high value of an ecosystem may result in high uti-
lisation, which may negatively affect the supply and demand. Also,
the values depend on the societal context and trends. In areas
where the greenery is threatened, the values may increase, while in
areas where other needs and social requirements, such as housing,
are more acute they may decrease.
5. Conclusions
The presented framework, based on the conceptual cascade
model presented by TEEB (2010) and Potschin and Haines-Young
(2011), can be applied to estimate both the total effect and value
of ecosystem services (ES) of a site. The framework uses a limited
number of indicators of relevant functional traits, and in contrast to
other methods, it allows for separation of both different compo-
nents (trees, shrubs, birds etc.) and the ES they contribute to.
A number of key indicators have been identied. The leaf area
index (LAI) is applicable for several of the regulative ES, and di-
versity of species for the cultural ES, included here. However, more
indicators of cultural ES are need. In step with increased knowledge
on the links between ecosystem components, services and effects
the framework can easily be updated to include more indicators as
well as additional ES.
ES provided by urban green areas included here were valued as
highly important and highly ranked in comparison to other
important aspects in cities such as improvements in public trans-
portation, housing, culture and entertainment. The relative
importance differs when ranked or rated. In addition, which ES are
most relevant differs due to different needs at different sites and
might change over time. To identify the most relevant ES ranking is
recommended, while for specic land use changes also a pair-wise
comparison of the pros and cons of expected changes in relation to
the investigated ES is thus recommended.
The framework has been developed with the idea that it should
be easy to use, systematic and transparent at all stages and to be
applied in the spatial planning processes. Once valuation of ES
becomes a routing practice and the links between ecosystem
components, services and effects especially regarding perceived
wellbeing and other cultural ES, are better understood, suitable
permutations of methods based (for example) on monetary valu-
ation can be used. Meanwhile more simple and less time
demanding methods like presented here are recommended.
The framework presented here has been developed in the
project Valuing ESs from urban greeneryfunded by the Swedish
Research Council Formas (grant 2012-3411-22602-60), the Swedish
Transport administration (Reference number 2010/11730) and
Mistra Urban Futures, who are all gratefully acknowledged. Sonja
Jonasson is acknowledged for valuable help.
Appendix A. Supplementary data
Supplementary data related to this article can be found at
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... people's perception) are relevant to the supply of ES by NBS, especially in the case of cultural services (e.g. Andersson-Sköld et al., 2018;Brill et al., 2017;Fry et al., 2009;Ode et al., 2008;Szücs et al., 2015). ...
... They appear also suitable for the assessment of NBS in urbanised contexts. In addition, diversity of landscape features was also identified in the consulted literature (Andersson-Sköld et al., 2018;Brill et al., 2017;Szücs et al., 2015) and could be evaluated making use of Shannon diversity index. As an indicator measuring the seasonal variability of vegetation (Ode et al., 2008) permits the assessment of short term changes in the aesthetic of the landscape, which could be easily measured by the amount of deciduous trees, annual herbaceous and seasonal crops present in an NBS intervention. ...
The recognition of nature in the resolution of societal challenges has been growing in relevance. This has been associated with the development of new concepts from science and policy such as natural capital, ecosystem services, green infrastructure, and more recently Nature-Based Solutions (NBS). NBS intends to address societal challenges in an effective and adaptive form providing economic, social, and environmental benefits. The overall aim of this PhD thesis is to develop an environmental and economic assessment of NBS for highly urbanised territories based on rationales and models underpinning system dynamics, urban/landscape ecology, and life cycle thinking approaches. This combined evaluation approach would help to better understand if NBS are intrinsically cost-effective or not. The aim is developed according to four specific objectives.The first objective corresponds to the characterisation of NBS in relation to urban contexts and the problematics that they can help to address or mitigate. To achieve this objective a critical review on the study of the relationship between NBS, ecosystem services (ES) and urban challenges (UC) was developed. As a main output, a graph of plausible cause-effect relationships between NBS, ES and UC is obtained. The graph represents a firs step to support sustainable urban planning, moving from problems (i.e. urban challenges) to actions (i.e. NBS) to resolutions (i.e. ES).The second objective corresponds to the definition of an adequate set of biophysical and monetary assessment methods to evaluate the value of NBS, especially in urban areas. To achieve this objective, a review of existing methods on ecosystem services valuation, life-cycle assessment, and environmental monetisation are developed. The review takes into account specific constraints such as easiness to use and availability of data. At the end, specific methods and indicators were considered and selected based on their robustness, easiness to use and data requirements.The third objective corresponds to the design of a combined evaluation framework integrating methods from life cycle assessment, system dynamics and ecosystem services that quantifies the value of NBS in biophysical and monetary units informing about the cost-effectiveness of its entire life-cycle. To achieve this objective, a conceptual framework is developed, building on the Multiscale Integrated Model of Ecosystem Services. From it, a system dynamics model of ecosystem (dis)services is developed and coupled with a life cycle assessment method. The combined evaluation is tested with a relevant NBS type (i.e. urban forest) in a case study in the metropolitan area of Madrid.The fourth objective is the development of a decision support (DDS) tool that integrates the evaluation framework as part of iterative design processes in urban planning and landscape design. The DSS intends to enhance the interrelation between science, policy and planning/design. To achieve this objective a user friendly web-based prototype DSS on NBS, called NBenefit®, is developed. The prototype DSS provides the user a simple form of quantifying the provision of multiple ES and costs over the entire life cycle (implementation, operational life, and end-of-life) of NBS.This thesis contributed to the characterisation of NBS and its environmental and economic evaluation to inform urban planning and landscape design processes, allowing decision that are more informed.
... The importance of urban greenery in mitigating the effects of climate change has been demonstrated in many studies, e.g., [1][2][3][4]. Regarding urban forests in particular, many factors are pertinent. One of the most important is where the forest is located in relation to the city-whether it is in the centre or at the edge. ...
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The paper presents the results of a case study that was prepared as a basis for decision-making processes in the context of the impacts of global climate change. The article is focused on a very important part of the urban environment, namely urban forests. When taking planning measures in periurban forests, two realities must always be addressed, i.e., adaptation measures to mitigate the effects of climate change on the forest complex in question and its use to mitigate the effects of climate change in its surroundings must both be considered. It is a well-known fact that forest communities (of any kind) are on the one hand affected by the impacts of climate change, but on the other hand are able to mitigate its effects on their surroundings. The case study was of land near the town of Mladá Boleslav. The aim was to analyse the hydrological regime of the Štěpánka Forest Park, nicknamed “the lungs of Mladá Boleslav”. Modelling of the runoff coefficient was made for the whole park area, as well as for the part on the left bank of the Klenice River (forested part). The runoff conditions of the site and their subparameters are addressed in the study by comparing the current state with the modelled state after deforestation of the site, e.g., due to drought. As far as the spatial layout of the forest is concerned, it is absolutely essential to maintain an integrated stand on the site with a lower stem cover (fewer individuals per plot) and a lower regeneration period. These aspects of a growing matrix forest stand will ensure its sustainability, in particular the sustainable water management of the trees in the context of lower water reserves in the rhizosphere and the greater ability of younger individuals to adapt to changes in site conditions (replacement of stress-resistant types by resilient types).
... On the other hand, UGS can improve the image and attraction of one city, which attracts more tourists, potential investors and immigrants (Braiterman, 2011;Chan, 2016). UGS can provide ecosystem and leisure service that benefit visitors (Andersson et al., 2018;Kabisch et al., 2015). The empirical analysis showed that residents' subjective well-being decreased with the increase in the number of tourists (Artjoms, 2017). ...
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The provision of urban green space is spatially uneven, which has brought challenges in shaping the inequalities of people’s subjective well-being in the developing world. Using panel data of 37 typical cities in China from 2012 to 2017, this study analyzes links of urban green space and environmental satisfaction from urban residents. We divide effects of urban green space into direct parts including scale, coverage rate and accessibility of urban green space, and indirect parts including environmental and economic performance of urban green space, measured by the bootstrap-DEA model. The geographically and temporally weighted regression model is applied to evaluate links. We find that increasing accessibility of urban green space can significantly improve environmental satisfaction, and the economic performance of urban green space is significantly negative with environmental satisfaction. The results also show scale, coverage rate and environmental performance of urban green space insignificantly associated with environmental satisfaction. Additional results show the spatial and temporarily varying about the urban green space–environmental satisfaction relationship over time and space. This study provides empirical evidence for further optimizing the allocation of urban green space.
... Ecosystem services (ES) include all the interlinked aspects of ecological structures with functions that are advantageous and bring benefits to human wellbeing [5]. ES also encompass social capital [6,7]. ...
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Urban ecosystem services have become a main issue in contemporary urban sustainable development, whose efforts are challenged by the phenomena of world urbanization and climate change. This article presents a study about the ecosystem services of green infrastructure towards better respiratory health in a socioeconomic scenario typical of the Global South countries. The study involved a data science approach comprising basic and multivariate statistical analysis, as well as data mining, for the municipalities of the state of Paraná, in Brazil’s South region. It is a cross-sectional study in which multiple data sets are combined and analyzed to uncover relationships or patterns. Data were extracted from national public domain databases. We found that, on average, the municipalities with more area of biodiversity per inhabitant have lower rates of hospitalizations resulting from respiratory diseases (CID-10 X). The biodiversity index correlates inversely with the rates of hospitalizations. The data analysis also demonstrated the importance of socioeconomic issues in the environmental-respiratory health phenomena. The data mining analysis revealed interesting associative rules consistent with the learning from the basic statistics and multivariate analysis. Our findings suggest that green infrastructure provides ecosystem services towards better respiratory health, but these are entwined with socioeconomics issues. These results can support public policies towards environmental and health sustainable management
... Recently, urban greenery has garnered attention as it plays a central role in mitigating major urban environmental problems such as climate change, toxic element pollution, and fine dust pollution (Grzędzicka, 2019;Hashemi et al., 2015;Sharifi, 2021). In addition, urban greenery can provide quality ecosystem services, such as clean air, reduction in heat island effect, tranquility, and spiritual and aesthetic experiences to urban residents (Andersson-Sköld et al., 2018;Brzoska et al., 2021;Chiesura, 2004). Although soil contributes to the ecosystem services of urban greenery as much as plants, management of urban green spaces focuses primarily on plant health. ...
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The soils in urban greenery provide essential ecosystem services. However, only a few studies have assessed urban soil quality based on a comprehensive view of ecosystem services and soil multi-functionality. In this study, we suggest an urban soil quality index (uSQI) to evaluate soil status in various spatial types of urban greenery. Our objectives are 1) to develop an uSQI incorporating a range of urban soil ecosystem services in metropolitan environments and 2) to test the efficacy of the developed uSQI by applying it to nine different sites. To fully consider ecosystem services provided by the urban soil, a DPSC (drivers and pressures, state, and changes) framework was constructed. Drivers and pressures are influencing factors that continuously alter the state of the urban greenery, eventually leading to changes in ecosystem services and soil functions. The six soil functions considered were physical stability and support, water storage and infiltration, habitat provision, organic matter stabilization, nutrient supply and retention, and pollutant immobilization and decomposition. These functions were measured using ten soil indicators which can be quantified: bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity, litter-layer depth, mineral-associated organic matter, clay+silt content, fluorescein diacetate hydrolytic activity, cation exchange capacity, inorganic nitrogen concentration, pH, and concentrations of potentially toxic elements. The uSQI was calculated as the arithmetic mean of the scores of the six soil functions, obtained through the fuzzy logic functions. The uSQI successfully identified the low soil quality sites among nine urban greeneries with different spatial types (point, line, and polygon). In addition, we could examine the degraded soil function of each site and suggest a management guideline using our uSQI. Our novel index can help urban stakeholders evaluate and monitor the soil quality of urban greenery.
Noise pollution from road traffic is ubiquitous in modern cities and is the second greatest environmental risk to health in Western Europe. Urban woodland can provide substantial noise mitigation if located properly, yet such considerations are often absent from the urban planning process. Current approaches for quantifying this important ecosystem service (ES) do not account adequately for important spatial factors and are unable to identify effectively the best locations to place new woodland for noise mitigation. We present new methods, in which we exploit the concept of least-cost-distance, to map and value the mitigating effect of urban woodland, and to identify optimal locations to place new woodland. Applying these methods, we show that urban woodland currently provides Birmingham City (UK) with over GBP 3.8 million in noise mitigation benefits, annually. We also show that our new ‘opportunity’ mapping methods effectively identify the best locations for new woodland, achieving close to a maximum service with less than a quarter of the additional woodland needed to achieve it. This has important implications for the design and implementation of urban tree planting for noise mitigation, and these methods can be adapted for other ES, allowing consideration of multiple service outcomes.
Built environment design professionals balance competing requirements for human comfort, aesthetics and ecological integrity in their projects. Among them, landscape designers play an important role in optimising the benefits derived from urban green spaces. This study critically considers value dimensions and domains that impinge on professionals’ decision making and environmental values that are applicable to built environment design. It specifically identifies the dominant group-based value domains and environmental values in local practice and examines how landscape designers determine the relative importance of competing values in urban South Africa. The study made use of semi-structured interviews with long-standing figures in the industry. The findings indicate that the political change, the economy and the varied climate and landscape character are contextual influences that strongly shape regional social constructions of urban nature. These constructions emphasise instrumental utility value that juxtapose fundamental values and overshadow less urgent eudemonistic and intrinsic environmental values. In the design process, designers trade off artistic pursuits for instrumental values, with implications for aesthetics and quality. The contextual influences undermine value pluralism. Current trade-offs arguably perpetuate a local legacy of the uneven distribution of quality green spaces. Promisingly, designers show environmental concern and value for sustainability, indigenous plants, utility, quality and safety. The potential for designers to strengthen bonds with urban nature lies in the creation of aesthetic experiences that build on existing local affinities to landscape character and indigenous species. Professional bodies have an important task to assist built environment designers in creating cities that preserve human-nature relationships.
Up to now, urban citizens have felt what urban nature actually provides and have stayed where these demanded services were offered optimally in comparison. However, these services were usually not measurable. The particularly beautiful park, the floodplain with many bird species, the place where children can play safely in the shallow water or the shady avenue were only known and used locally as categories.
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Most humans now live in cities and their main experience of nature is through urban greenery. An increasing number of studies show the importance of urban green spaces for wellbeing, although most of them are based on visual perception. A questionnaire examining people’s evaluations of natural sounds was answered by 1326 individuals living near one of six urban green areas of varying naturalness in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Women and the elderly reported greater calmness when hearing bird song and rustling leaves (and placed a higher importance on the richness of bird species) than did men, younger and middle-aged individuals. Independent of age and gender, urban woodlands (high naturalness) had higher evaluations than parks (low naturalness). Our results suggest that to increase positive experiences of urban green areas, demographic variables of gender and age should be taken into account, and settings that mimic nature should be prioritized in planning.
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The aim was to investigate the relationships between landscape-related personal and collective identity and well-being of residents living in a Swedish mountain county (N = 850). It was shown that their most valued mountain activities were viewing and experiencing nature and landscape, outdoor recreation, rest and leisure, and socializing with friends/family. Qualitative analyses showed that the most valued aspects of the sites were landscape and outdoor restoration for personal favorite sites, and tourism and alpine for collective favorite sites. According to quantitative analyses the stronger the attachment/closeness/belonging (emotional component of place identity) residents felt to favorite personal and collective sites the more well-being they perceived when visiting these places. Similarly, the more remembrance, thinking and mental travel (cognitive component of place identity) residents directed to these sites the more well-being they perceived in these places. In both types of sites well-being was more strongly predicted by emotional than cognitive component of place-identity. All this indicates the importance of person-place bonds in beneficial experiences of the outdoors, over and above simply being in outdoor environments.
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Green space in cities contributes to the quality of life for city dwellers, e.g., by increasing the opportunity for recreation. However, perception of urban green space is influenced by multiple factors. We investigated effects of biodiversity and environment-related attitudes on visual and auditory perceptions of urban green space. Field measurements of biodiversity were conducted in six sites across an urban gradient in Gothenburg, Sweden, and three categories of biodiversity—high, medium, low—were established. Households were sent a survey on aesthetic perception of urban green space, sound perception and the importance of trees and plants for the perception of bird species. Each respondent focused on the site that was located nearby. The environment-related attitudes comprised “Nature-oriented” and “Urban-oriented” persons and were based on participants’ own attitude estimations. It was shown that participants’ “subjective” aesthetic and sound-related perception of urban greenery were in line with the “objectively” measured subdivisions of high, medium and low biodiversity. So also were their estimations of the importance of trees and plants for perception of bird species in urban greenery, although differing only between high and medium/low biodiversity conditions. Persons rating themselves as highly nature-oriented were shown to give higher scores to urban green space aesthetics and to value greenery-related sounds higher, and to attach greater importance to trees and plants in their perception of bird species in urban greenery, than less nature-oriented persons. Highly urban-oriented persons compared to less urban-oriented persons did the same, but only regarding urban greenery-related aesthetics and sounds of nature. We conclude that environment-related attitudes influence perceptions of green space. Moreover, our findings support the idea that biodiversity per se also influences perceptions; people value green space significantly more with high than with low measured biodiversity. Urban planning needs to provide city inhabitants with green spaces that are species-rich, lush, varied and rich with natural sounds.
Leaf area of urban vegetation is an important ecological characteristic, influencing urban climate through shading and transpiration cooling and air quality through air pollutant deposition. Accurate estimates of leaf area over large areas are fundamental to model such processes. The aim of this study was to explore if an aerial LiDAR dataset acquired to create a high resolution digital terrain model could be used to map effective leaf area index (Le) and to assess the Le variation in a high latitude urban area, here represented by the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Le was estimated from LiDAR data using a Beer-Lambert law based approach and compared to ground-based measurements with hemispherical photography and the Plant Canopy Analyser LAI-2200. Even though the LiDAR dataset was not optimized for Le mapping the comparison with hemispherical photography showed good agreement (r² = 0.72, RMSE = 0.97) for urban parks and woodlands. Leaf area density of single trees, estimated from LiDAR and LAI-2200, did not show as good agreement (r² = 0.53, RMSE = 0.49). Le in 10 m resolution covering most of Gothenburg municipality ranged from 0 to 14 (0.3% of the values >7) with an average Le of 3.5 in deciduous forests and 1.2 in urban built-up areas. When Le was averaged over larger scales there was a high correlation with canopy cover (r² = 0.97 in 1 × 1 km² scale) implying that at this scale Le is rather homogenous. However, when Le was averaged only over the vegetated parts, differences in Le became clear. Detailed study of Le in seven urban green areas with different amount and type of greenery showed a large variation in Le, ranging from average Le of 0.9 in a residential area to 4.1 in an urban woodland. The use of LiDAR data has the potential to considerably increase information of forest structure in the urban environment.
Air pollution levels (NO2, PAHs, O3) were investigated, before (BLE) and after (ALE) leaf emergence, in the urban landscape of Gothenburg, Sweden. The aims were to study the 1) spatial and temporal variation in pollution levels between urban green areas, 2) effect of urban vegetation on air pollution levels at the same distance from a major emission source (traffic route), 3) improvement of urban air quality in urban parks compared to adjacent sites near traffic, 4) correlation between air pollution and noise in a park. O3 varied little over the urban landscape. NO2 varied strongly and was higher in situations strongly influenced by traffic. Four PAH variables were included: total PAH, total particle-bound PAH, the quantitatively important gaseous phenanthrene and the highly toxic particle-bound benzo(a)pyrene. The variation of PAHs was similar to NO2, but for certain PAHs the difference between highly and less polluted sites was larger than for NO2. At a vegetated site, NO2 and particulate PAH levels were lower than at a non-vegetated site at a certain distance from a busy traffic route. This effect was significantly larger ALE compared to BLE for NO2, indicating green leaf area to be highly significant factor for air quality improvement. For particulate PAHs, the effect was similar BLE and ALE, indicating that tree bark and branches also could be an important factor in reducing air pollution. Parks represented considerably cleaner local environments (park effect), which is likely to be a consequence of both a dilution (distance effect) and deposition. Noise and air pollution (NO2 and PAH) levels were strongly correlated. Comparison of noise levels BLE and ALE also showed that the presence of leaves significantly reduced noise levels. Our results are evidence that urban green spaces are beneficial for urban environmental quality, which is important to consider in urban planning.
Neighbourhood green space serves an important function for the urban population, and provides valuable ecosystem services for human well-being. In this article, we investigate the effects of naturalness, gender, and age on the activities, aesthetics, and self-reported well-being associated with urban green space. Our findings are based on a postal survey of residents living in close proximity to six different green spaces in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. It is shown that higher perceived naturalness generated more activities and higher aesthetic values and self-reported well-being for residents living close to urban green spaces. The results also indicated that, regardless of the type of naturalness, women were more active in urban green spaces than were men. Women also saw greater aesthetic value in green spaces than men did, and had higher self-reported well-being associated with the urban green spaces. Finally, older residents were shown to participate in a greater number of nature-related activities than younger residents. Older residents also saw greater aesthetic values and had higher self-reported well-being associated with urban green spaces than younger people did. Seemingly, this poses a considerable planning challenge if areas of perceived naturalness are to be retained in cities, since the present trend is for reduced green spaces in cities and a ‘parkification’ of surviving natural areas. Further, because of the importance of perceived natural areas to the elderly, and in particularly women, distances to urban green areas should not be too great.
Economic valuation of ecosystem services is widely advocated as being useful to support ecosystem management decision-making. However, the extent to which it is actually used or considered useful in decision-making is poorly documented. This literature blindspot is explored with an application to coastal and marine ecosystems management in Australia. Based on a nation-wide survey of eighty-eight decision-makers representing a diversity of management organizations, the perceived usefulness and level of use of economic valuation of ecosystem services, in support of coastal and marine management, are examined. A large majority of decision-makers are found to be familiar with economic valuation and consider it useful - even necessary - in decision-making, although this varies across groups of decision-makers. However, most decision-makers never or rarely use economic valuation. The perceived level of importance and trust in estimated dollar values differ across ecosystem services, and are especially high for values that relate to commercial activities. A number of factors are also found to influence respondent's use of economic valuation. Such findings concur with conclusions from other studies on the usefulness and use of ESV in environmental management decision-making. They also demonstrate the strength of the survey-based approach developed in this application to examine this issue in a variety of contexts.