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Assessing the Value of Urban Green Infrastructure Ecosystem Services for High-Density Urban Management and Development: Case from the Capital Core Area of Beijing, China

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Urban green infrastructure (UGI) includes green and blue open spaces that provide multiple ecosystem services (ES) and the ecological and cultural benefits for people to hedge the urbanization challenges. In this paper, we assessed the total economic value of ES provided by UGI in the capital core area of Beijing by calculating the value of six types of ES related to high-density urban features: (1) climate regulation, (2) carbon sequestration and oxygen production, (3) water control and conservation, (4) air pollution reduction, (5) noise reduction (6) cultural services through the combination of replacement cost, carbon tax, shadow project, afforestation cost, and market price methods. The results showed that UGI generated economic benefits in the surveyed area of about CNY ¥1.56 billion (USD $240 million) per year or CNY ¥91.76 (USD $14) per capita. The largest share of ES came from carbon sequestration and oxygen production, amounting to about 46.32% of the total ES value. Our findings also revealed that the distribution of ES value patterns varied across communities. This study enhanced the understanding of local UGI and had significant policy implications for future urban sustainable management, both in the capital core area of Beijing and in other high-density urban areas.
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Assessing the Value of Urban Green Infrastructure Ecosystem
Services for High-Density Urban Management and
Development: Case from the Capital Core Area of
Beijing, China
Haiyun Xu 1, * and Guohan Zhao 2
Citation: Xu, H.; Zhao, G. Assessing
the Value of Urban Green
Infrastructure Ecosystem Services for
High-Density Urban Management
and Development: Case from the
Capital Core Area of Beijing, China.
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115. https://
Academic Editors:
Kevin Muldoon-Smith, Bimal Kumar,
Shiv Prasad Singh and Ashish Gupta
Received: 30 September 2021
Accepted: 29 October 2021
Published: 2 November 2021
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral
with regard to jurisdictional claims in
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Copyright: © 2021 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
1Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Architecture and Urban Planning,
Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Beijing 102627, China
2Department of the Built Environment, Aalborg University, Thomas Manns Vej 23,
9220 Aalborg Øst, Denmark;
*Correspondence:; Tel.: +86-185-1170-9902
Urban green infrastructure (UGI) includes green and blue open spaces that provide multiple
ecosystem services (ES) and the ecological and cultural benefits for people to hedge the urbanization
challenges. In this paper, we assessed the total economic value of ES provided by UGI in the
capital core area of Beijing by calculating the value of six types of ES related to high-density urban
features: (1) climate regulation, (2) carbon sequestration and oxygen production, (3) water control
and conservation, (4) air pollution reduction, (5) noise reduction (6) cultural services through the
combination of replacement cost, carbon tax, shadow project, afforestation cost, and market price
methods. The results showed that UGI generated economic benefits in the surveyed area of about
1.56 billion (USD $240 million) per year or CNY
91.76 (USD $14) per capita. The largest
share of ES came from carbon sequestration and oxygen production, amounting to about 46.32%
of the total ES value. Our findings also revealed that the distribution of ES value patterns varied
across communities. This study enhanced the understanding of local UGI and had significant policy
implications for future urban sustainable management, both in the capital core area of Beijing and in
other high-density urban areas.
urban ecosystem services; value; urban green infrastructure; high-density urban context;
capital core area in Beijing; urban sustainable planning strategy; urban management
1. Introduction
Urban green infrastructure (UGI) is widely known as a multifunctional system that
involves open green and blue spaces [
]. These systems include parks, green rooves, rain
gardens, constructed wetlands, detention basins, and so on. At the same time, the multiple
functional benefits afforded by UGI include climate adaptation, heat reduction, biodiversity,
air quality, and water conservation, as well as more social functions such as increased
quality of life through recreation and the maintenance of cultural sites [
]. Extensive
existing literature from across the globe has shown that Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI)
holds the potential to address major challenges of urbanization such as social and cultural
loss, climate change, air pollution, landscape fragmentation, and also improves the quality
of life for urban residents [
]. This is perhaps why the functions and benefits of UGI
provided for people have been commonly known as ecosystem services (ES). Certainly,
the European Commission (2013) was among the first to address green infrastructure as a
strategically planned network that connects various environmental features and provides
a wide range of ecosystem services (ES) [13,14].
As a kind of ecological system, and in accordance with the Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment (MA) [
], the ecosystem services associated with UGI can be further
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115.
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divided into provisional services (essential products that support human wellbeing, such
as textiles, wood, and freshwater), regulation services (which improve the quality of
the natural environment, i.e., air quality, climate, and water recycling), cultural service
benefits (emotional benefits such as aesthetic, cultural, and recreational amenities), and
other support services (such as biodiversity, atmospheric oxygen production, and soil
formation). The ecosystem services generated by UGI are therefore critical for ecological
cohesion between a variety of evolving parts and social components, all of which are
endemic to urban communities via their provision of human benefits and perpetuation of
the sustainable function of urban ecosystems [
]. The valuation of ecosystem services can
be a meaningful approach to identify and measure the importance and performance of
UGI [20].
According to the international state of the art, despite efforts to include these ES during
urban management discussions [
], current initiatives for ES valuation [
] amid an
urban ecosystem have received less attention than others, such as forests, grassland, and
wetland ecosystems [
]. Besides, some benefits of UGI, which are relevant in an urban
capacity, especially in the context of high-density, historical urban areas such as recreational
and heritage sites, are not well captured or represented among common ES classification
systems [
]. Furthermore, since existing research in an urban context primarily focuses
on a single ecosystem service such as air pollution or stormwater management [
there exists a lack of a targeted evaluation system per the coordination of multiple UGI
benefits, which creates several barriers to long-term environmental quality and cultural
proliferation in a central urban area such as Beijing. Thus, it is valuable to evaluate the ES
values generated by UGI in high-density urban areas via holistic ES systems that remain
relevant to localized, pre-existing urban features.
According to the Chinese state of the art, UGI has received an increased amount of
attention from scholars and decision-makers in China since the early 2000s [
] and is
also considered one of the most important components to configure an urban ecosystem
in 2021 and beyond. At the time, China introduced UGI as a method to improve green,
urban, sustainable development as a functional control method that targets city sprawl,
mitigates the heat island effect, and enhances the overall urban
landscape [28,29]
. Existing,
China-centric studies may be classified under two main themes (1) green infrastructure
(GI) network planning studies through various approaches such as MSPA or cost distance
analysis, which present major time and labor commitments, and (2) various evaluations of
the features and functions of UGI as a methodology [
]. Among them, the current stan-
dards for UGI evaluation research in China mainly focus on fields such as the connectivity
of the GI network, resident preferences for GI, and suitability evaluations that include
accessibility and ecological sensitivity analyses. However, little research has specifically
evaluated the ecosystem service values generated by UGI in the context of central urban
areas in China.
It is, therefore, within this context that we performed our study practice within a single
high-density urban area in China to assess the economic value of the ecosystem services
generated by UGI via a comprehensive ES evaluation system. This study examined the
ecosystem service value of provisional services, regulation services, cultural services, and
other support services. We developed a case study to explore trends associated with the
capital core area of Beijing, one of the most built-up urban areas in China that boasts a high
population density. This area just completed its first period of UGI network construction
toward urban transformation in 2017 and continues to sustain a master plan for UGI
network enhancements, which will span the next five years. As such, the main aim of our
study was to identify UGI performance in the capital core area of Beijing at the intersection
of human wellbeing.
The implications of our findings could be discussed to further provide spatial planning
and management guidance per the development of UGI projects that meet proposed
evaluation standards, as well as to measure and refine certain ecosystem service values.
The results of this study could support urban decision-makers and planners for a better
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 3 of 19
understanding of the performance and contribution factors associated with UGI in the
context of the urban ecosystem and also support the identification of potential urban
planning and management strategies built from ecological service perspectives.
In short, this paper raises the following research questions:
What is the land coverage component of the current UGI in the capital core area
of Beijing?
What is the generated value of ES based on UGI assessment in the capital core area
of Beijing?
What is the distribution of the ES value for the current UGI in the capital core area
of Beijing?
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Site
Our study area focused on the “capital core area” of Beijing, which is the capital city
of China. Because Beijing is a historical city, the central core of the city, including the
Dongcheng and Xicheng districts of Beijing that house 32 communities and span an area
of 92.5 km
, is endowed with the full function of the country’s political, cultural, and
international exchange [
] (Figure 1). The area also serves as a key conservation area for
Chinese historical and cultural heritage and offers a window through which to assess the
greater urban area in and around Beijing. It has a significant proportion of green space
with a green cover rate of 31.95% [
]. Planning for the current UGI system deployed in
the capital core area was initiated in 2004 and included parks and community green spaces
to provide various ecosystem service benefits for surrounding residents.
Figure 1. The location of the case study area, the capital core area of Beijing.
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 4 of 19
In 2020, the government approved a new master plan for the capital core area of
Beijing aimed at the creation of a natural, sustainable living environment that exists in a
state of cultural harmony [
]. New UGI will be built to provide public ecosystem services
to residents, which means the per capita ES rate will increase from 6.57 km
at present to
6.8 km
by 2035 [
]. Local UGI planning protocols for high-density urban areas contain an
allocation process of green space resources for surrounding communities. The achievement
of justifiable, effective, and strategic green space resource allocation thus demands an
improved understanding of local UGI. An evaluation of the true value of ES distribution
generated by local UGI will enhance our understanding of UGI performance, which then
contributes to future strategic UGI planning. As a result, we examined the ES values
provided by the current UGI in the capital core area of Beijing.
2.2. Data Collection
We used the land cover dataset from the Finer Resolution Observation and Monitoring
of Global Land Cover (FROM-GLC10) for this study, which was interpreted from 10 m
resolution satellite imagery collected via Sentinel-2 in 2017 [
]. Sentinel-2 was launched
in 2015 and conducts global observation tasks via high-resolution, multispectral imagery.
Thirteen spectral band satellite observation products were delivered from this satellite,
including the 10 m resolution optical and near-infrared bands relevant to our study. A
supervised machine learning method was applied to complete the classification task. Thus,
both training and validation datasets were collected based on Landsat 8 imagery taken
from observations made in 2014 and 2015. To ensure sufficient accuracy, ~34,000 training
samples and ~14,000 inter-seasonal observations were included from that year to support
the validation task [32].
Here, a random forest classifier of 200 trees was used to interpret our multi-dimensional
dataset, specifically to pursue high computational performance. Meanwhile, the collected
global digital elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) was
included to distinguish between different land cover types (e.g., forest, grassland, and
shrubland). In benchmarking these results against the validation dataset, the overall accu-
racy of this land cover classification reaches 72.76%. In contrast to other alternatives (e.g.,
the FROM-GLC30), the FROM-GLC10 provides a better way to distinguish between shrub
and grassland, which is essential for the ES computations used in this study. Furthermore,
fewer misclassifications are involved, particularly for differentiation between the shaded
areas and the waterbody, which are known for common classification errors in dense urban
areas. Hence, we believe that this land cover dataset delivers high resolution and sufficient
classification accuracy for our ES computation study per the capital core area of Beijing.
Nevertheless, public park areas most likely include more than one type of land cover
class (i.e., forest and impervious area), which can be difficult to trace merely through remote
sensing technologies. As such, we manually traced the park areas based on satellite images
taken from the Sentinel-2 satellite for the computation of the cultural ecosystem service.
2.3. Data Analysis
We performed our study referring to Costanzo’s ecosystem services calculation
method [
], which built a basic research framework for ecosystem service value assess-
ments as follows.
The technical route was as follows: first, in accordance with certain standards, such
as human development, the utilization of land, or the natural condition of the ecosystem,
the ecosystem area proposed in the study was classified into the various ecosystems
with different land covers according to different calculation methods. From there, it was
possible to calculate the unit area capital of various types of ecosystem services, and finally,
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 5 of 19
to calculate the total capital and summarize the total capital structure of the table. The total
value of regional ecosystem services across our target area was calculated as:
Vij Ai(1)
where R is the total value of regional ecosystem services, Vij means the unit value of the
j-th ecological system service function within the i-th ecological system, and A is the area
of the i-th-type ecosystem.
According to the multiple economic and cultural functions associated with UGI, as
well as the perspectives mentioned in China’s 2020 master plan for the capital core area of
Beijing [
], we selected the following six economic services for our evaluation: (1) climate
regulation, (2) carbon sequestration, (3) water control and conservation, (4) air pollution
reduction, (5) noise reduction, and (6) cultural services. We aim to calculate the economic
value of these six economic services to evaluate the status quo of UGI within the capital
core area of Beijing.
Appendix Ashows the calculating process, basic parameters, and data sources we
used to estimate the economic value of associated ES and their evaluations. Our study
intent was to calculate the current benefits of UGI overall and did not involve a historical
comparison nor value-added calculations.
2.3.1. Value of Climate Regulation Benefit
As urban heat island (UHI) intensity can negatively affect human health and wellbeing,
especially in summer, the climate regulation benefits provided by UGI are important to
improve and sustain urban wellbeing. It is widely established that UGI could reduce
local UHI levels [
], while UGI-associated vegetation has been shown to increase
evapotranspiration and shading and reduce radiation, absorption, and the amount of
heat stored within urban surfaces [
]. Thus, UGI and its surrounding area often have
lower temperatures than other urban contexts [
]. In the summertime, the cooling effect
produced by UGI may therefore directly reduce high energy use from air conditioners.
Here, evaluations about climate regulation value could then be replaced by estimates that
consider the reduced cost of air conditioning.
In our study, a replacement cost method (RCM) was deployed to evaluate the climate
regulation benefit provided by UGI within our target area. The RCM looks at the cost of
replacing a damaged or lost asset and uses this cost as a partial proxy or measure of its
value [
]. Scholars have long addressed the main advantages of this method, such as easily
obtainable information about cost or reduced time to valuation estimate [
]. Recently, the
RCM has received increased attention across various studies (e.g., in forest and wetland ES
assessments), which have been able to prove its applicability when estimating the value
of regulation services like climate regulation and air pollution reduction [
]. Existing
studies have similarly supported the RCM’s potential as a useful heuristic tool that provides
valuable information to policymakers [
]. When we look at the numbers, prior studies
have also identified the temperature adjustment effects of a big tree, which, over 24 h, is
equal to 1046 KJ. This level of energy consumption is equivalent to ten air conditioners
working for 20 h each, estimating a per unit power consumption of
0.86 kWh/unit [40]
. The
average electricity bill, according to the average standard of Beijing’s recorded electricity
charges, is calculated at CNY0.60/kWh, or CNY0.516/(h·unit).
When we then account for the urban forestland planting standard in Beijing [
], we
see more than two hundred trees planted in urban forestland per hectare. As mentioned
above, the resultant evapotranspiration, shading, and mitigation of urban heat radiation
from these trees produces the cooling effect found with UGI. Thus, such cooling effects
may further be influenced by the morphological, physiological, and biochemical features
(such as canopy size, leaf density, and age) of these trees. For instance, the cooling effect
would not be so large if trees were small, sickly, or unprotected. To have enough leaves for
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 6 of 19
evapotranspiration, shading, and heat radiation mitigation, we calculated that, on average,
100 trees per hectare are needed to effectively contribute to cooling effects, and to reduce
local temperatures known to Beijing’s urban forestry centers, as referred to in previous
research [
]. Finally, we calculated air conditioning time as a period of 60 days per year,
to which the annual benefit of climate regulation was calculated in Appendix A, Table A1
Equation (1).
2.3.2. Value of Carbon Sequestration and Oxygen Production
Central Beijing is a highly dense, built-up area of the city, where a large amount of
emissions stem from energy production sources such as high population and urban
transportation. In this context, UGI plays an irreplaceable role in maintaining the dynamic
balance between CO
and O
in the surrounding urban atmosphere [
]. In short, the
carbon sequestration capacity of the average UGI can be linked to positive increases in
vegetation biomass [35].
In this study, the carbon tax and market price method were used to estimate the service
value of carbon sequestration and oxygen release for UGI. Via the carbon tax method, we
establish the quantity relationship of fixed carbon and oxygen release from UGI-associated
vegetation and then multiply that by the carbon emission charges found per national and
international standards, all to determine the value of carbon sequestration. The carbon tax
method is widely regarded as the optimal approach when directly estimating ecosystem
service values for carbon sequestration and oxygen release [
]. Furthermore, the
market price method is commonly applied to quantify direct production values based on
commercial market price trends [
]. This approach has therefore been addressed as a
suitable avenue for the buying and selling of valuable ecosystem services within various
commercial markets thanks to widespread data availability [
]. Certainly, it relies on
observed standard data, commonly accepted cost and price measures, or tangible consumer
preferences. Per the evaluation of oxygen release metrics, oxygen was quantified as the
direct product of UGI, which is then multiplied by the cost of oxygen production to assess
service value.
In terms of carbon sequestration, measures begin by noting that each hectare of forest
can absorb up to and beyond 1000 kg of CO
per day. The efficiency of forestland absorption
for CO
is, therefore, 365 t/(a
); similarly, the efficiency of grassland absorption for
is 131.4 t/(a
) [
]. The economic value of the CO
absorption function can be
measured per ecosystem unit via carbon tax methods [
]. According to the China carbon
pricing survey from ICF, the carbon tax price in China was about CNY
49/t (CO
) [
] at
the time of this study’s publication.
For oxygen production benefits, each hectare of broad-leaf forest can release > 2750 kg
of oxygen per day, while the average grassland area releases up to 0.01 kg of O
per hour.
According to previous literature, the value of oxygen was regarded as the cost of producing
oxygen according to industry standard, i.e., cooling air to the point of liquefaction and then
using hot air to remove other gases via their different boiling points thus, resulting in pure
oxygen. The cost to produce oxygen per industry standards in China is calculated at CNY
¥4000/t, whereas the value of oxygen released via woodland areas is CNY ¥821,250/hm2.
Thus, the fiscal value of grassland oxygen release is CNY ¥262.8/hm2[36].
Finally, we summed these two benefits above and calculated the annual value of
carbon sequestration and oxygen production as Appendix AEquations (2.1)–(2.2).
2.3.3. Value of Water Control and Conservation
Existing research has addressed UGI’s contribution to water management efforts
through runoff prevention and stormwater recapture to facilitate flooding where rain
and natural earth filtration occurs—both of which also benefit groundwater supply and
water reuse for activities such as landscaping [
]. As such, we used the shadow project
method (SPM) to evaluate the ES on water control and conservation provided by UGI.
Should the water control and conservation functions of UGI degrade, the SPM would
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 7 of 19
be needed in response to absorb the floodwaters, with flood control measures ultimately
required. To achieve this, the cost of the flood control project per year was annualized
via the amortization of the capital cost to arrive at an annual value for water control and
conservation benefits. Thus, SPM is also an implicit form of market price, defined as the
marginal price that society invests on the non-marketed ES through the construction of
these projects [
]. Scholars have already addressed its applicability for assessing the
value of water control and storage [
]. We thus performed an SPM analysis to assess
the value of water control and conservation per the ES provided by UGI.
Per the Beijing Hydrological Bureau, the average annual precipitation in the flood
season in Beijing is 547.5 mm [
]; the national flood control project construction investment
is estimated to cost CNY
0.67 per 1 m
of storage capacity [
]. The areas of wetland,
water, and forest are regarded as the primary UGI for water control. We performed the
calculations for the annual value of water control and conservation benefit as Appendix A
Equation (3).
2.3.4. Value of Reducing Noise
The existing literature addresses the function of vegetation in the absorption and
insulation of noise, while urban greening has a certain commonality when it comes to
noise attenuation [
]. The value of the noise reduction provided by UGI is directly related
to the performance of any given forest on its own [
]. We thus used the afforestation
cost method to evaluate the ES value of noise reduction. To be clear, the afforestation cost
method refers to the construction cost of the forest area, which has the capacity to reduce an
equal amount of noise—enough to replace the values of other (more costly) means of urban
noise reduction [
]. Currently, the afforestation method is a widely used approach to
estimate the value of forest ecosystems at the axis of noise reduction and is based on a 15%
afforestation cost [
], which is determined by the average afforestation cost multiplied
by the volume of mature forest per unit area, and total forest area. According to the Beijing
Park bureau, the average afforestation cost is approximately CNY
, while the
volume of mature forest per unit area is 80 m
. Appendix AEquation (4) shows the
detailed calculation process.
2.3.5. Value of Reducing Air Pollution
Many research publications have revealed the function of UGI as it relates to air
pollution reduction, particularly sulfide and nitride present in the air, at the intersection
of absorption range and plant resistance [
]. Our study also utilizes the replace-
ment cost method to evaluate the fiscal and economic value of reduced air pollution. As
mentioned in the previous paragraph, RCM was claimed as an applicable approach to
assess regulation services like the regulation and reduction of air pollution. As such, we
used the cost evaluation method to measure SO
and NOx, and to replace the value of air
pollution reduction.
The value of reducing air pollution can therefore be summarized as follows:
The value of SO
absorption: The SO
absorption capacity of broad-leaved forest
is 88.65 kg/(hm
a) [
], the average SO
absorption capacity of coniferous forest is
215.60 kg/(hm2·a)
, the average SO
absorption capacity of the two is
152.125 kg/(hm2·a)
while the cost of SO2governance is CNY ¥3000 per ton [40].
The value of NOx absorption: At present, the cost to deploy denitrification treatments
to combat automobile exhaust is approximately CNY
16,000 per ton. 1 hm
of forest
land can absorb 380 kg of nitrogen oxide per year.
The value of retention, filtration, and dust reduction for floating dust: The dust
retention capacity of a coniferous forest is 33.2 t/hm
, the dust retention capacity of a
broad-leaved forest is 10.11 t/hm
, the average is 21.65t/hm
, and the dust reduction
cost is CNY ¥170/t [40].
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 8 of 19
Then, the annual benefit of reducing air pollution could be calculated as the sum
of the value of SO
absorption, NOx absorption, and dust reduction, which is shown in
Appendix AEquations (5.1)–(5.3).
2.3.6. Value of Cultural Service (CES)
As we mentioned in the introduction, the cultural services (CES) provided by UGI
are largely determined by people’s subjective perceptions and needs, and significantly
affect the improvement of human wellbeing per physical and mental health and spiri-
tual culture [
]. According to studies on the topic of urban green infrastructure, such
projects provide a myriad of cultural services and values, from recreation and tourism
to environmental appreciation, education, and the fulfillment of spiritual needs [
For instance, the scenic aspects of UGI provide pleasant aesthetics, motivate intellectual
stimulation, and add a real human element to urban spaces meant for tourism and leisure
activities. The biodiversity inherent to UGI establishes a critical platform for environmental
education. Moreover, some UGI, such as the renowned glory of the forests surround-
ing Tiantan Temple in Beijing, have the real potential to become recognizable cultural
heritage sites in the city. UGI promotes social activities like environmental discussions,
volunteer service, and wilderness hobbies such as fishing, bird watching, and horticultural
therapy. From these, residents benefit from an increased sense of belonging, a tangible
group identity, improved physical and mental health, and increased social relationships.
Such results are also regarded in the literature as the CES that result from responsible
]. Still, since the cultural service value of a given ecosystem is non-material and
non-consumable [
], it is sometimes difficult to quantify its true value. In our study, we
thus directly use the CES value of each green space type across Beijing in accordance with
category denominations made by Li in 2019 [
]. That study summarized green spaces
in Beijing as mainly providing the CES benefits of recreation, tourism, aesthetics, and
education [
]. According to such findings, the average CES value generated by green
spaces in Beijing is CNY
. Among these spaces, the main inner-city park in
Beijing provided a CES value of CNY
, while most other public green spaces
across the city averaged CNY
. [
] Because of increased data availability, we
regarded CES as a direct product of UGI per accepted and standard market values in
Beijing. We then performed the market price method to evaluate total CES benefit via
measures of the various CES provided by each type of green space, multiplied by the total
area of each green space on its own. Results may be found in Appendix A—Equation (6),
which details the calculation process.
3. Results
3.1. Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) in Central Beijing
Our first step was to measure the land cover outcome for the capital core area of Beijing.
The UGI ecosystem in that area includes 790.26 ha of forest land, 0.06 ha of shrubland,
26.39 ha
of grassland, 5.47 ha of wetland, and 416.14 ha of bodied water. “Forest land” areas
in this study, therefore, refer to the sum of all forest areas and shrubland. We also included
green space areas and flower beds that occupy either side of a road in our “grassland”
ecosystem categorization. Our result is the total land cover metric for UGI within the
capital core area of Beijing (Figure 2). The UGI in central Beijing has been classified into the
park and other public green spaces, whereas according to the yearbook from the Beijing
garden bureau, the total area of the park system there is 1138.1 ha, and the total area of the
remaining other public green space is 136.4 ha.
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Figure 2. The land cover of UGI within the capital core area of Beijing.
3.2. The ES Value of Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) in Central Beijing
We determined the ES value generated by UGI in the core of Beijing based on the
outcome area of various UGI land cover types. Evaluation results were as follows:
Climate regulation benefit: The total climate regulation value of forest land was
estimated to be CNY
490,319,677 (USD $75,433,796) per year, or CNY
(USD $95,251.54)/ha/year via replacement cost calculations.
Carbon sequestration and oxygen production: Based on afforestation calculations and
via the market price method, we estimated that the total value of carbon sequestration
provided by UGI in our case study area is CNY
74,207,632 (USD $11,416,559) per year,
or CNY
125,708 (USD 19,350)/ha/year. The total value of oxygen production is CNY
649,064,052(USD $99,856,008) per year, or CNY
821,512 (
USD $126,386
Thus, the total impact value of UGI on carbon sequestration and oxygen produc-
tion is CNY
723,271,684 (USD $175,623,890) per year and CNY
947,220 (USD
Water control and conservation: The total value of the water control and conserva-
tion benefit provided by UGI was estimated through the shadow project method.
Urban green infrastructure produced a CNY
4,445,717 (USD $683,956) per year, or a
3668.3 (USD $564.30)/ha/year value at the intersection of water control and
Noise reduction: Based on the afforestation method, the total value of the noise
reduction variable for all UGI was estimated to be CNY
2,845,182 (USD $437,720)
per year, or CNY ¥3600 (USD $554)/ha/year.
Air pollution reduction: We assessed air pollution levels for sulfide, nitride, and dust.
The total value of absorbed SO
by forest land was estimated to be CNY
(USD $55,626.95) per year, or CNY
436 (USD $70.18)/ha/year. The value of NOx
absorption was estimated to be CNY
4,805,196 (USD $793,261) per year, or CNY
6080 (USD $935.38)/ha/year. The value of dust retention, filtration, and reduction
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 10 of 19
for floating dust is CNY
2,908,803 (USD $447,508.20) per year, or CNY
(USD $566.23)/ha/year. The total ES value of UGI at the intersection of air pollution
reduction was CNY¥8,075,575 (USD $1,242,396) per year.
Cultural service: Based on the CES value inherent to many green space types in Beijing
(Li, 2019), we estimated the total value of UGI for the capital core area of Beijing;
results indicate an ES value of CNY
332,194,392 (USD $51,106,830) per year, or CNY
190,000 (USD $29,230.77)/ha/year—this according to the green space classifications
from the Beijing Garden Bureau.
Next, we estimated the total economic value of the ecosystem services (ES) that UGI in the
capital core area of Beijing generates. Results and percentages may be seen in Table 1below.
Table 1. The total value of ES provided by UGI in the capital core area of Beijing.
Type of ES
and Oxygen
Water Control
Reduce Air
Service Sum
(CNY ¥) 490,319,677 723,271,684 4,445,717 2,845,182 8,075,575 332,194,392
In sum, the total established value of central Beijing’s UGI resulted in a
CNY ¥1.56 billion
(USD $240 million) annual ecosystem service value. The highest economic benefit provided
by UGI in the core capital region of Beijing was generated from carbon sequestration and
oxygen production (46.32% of the total), followed by climate regulation benefits (31.41%), and
cultural service benefits (21.28%). When we consider that Beijing sustains a population of
1.7 million
residents within the core area alone, the per capita value is CNY
91.76. When we
then refer to the current UGI area targeted by our study, and from the above evaluations, we
may conclude that the ecological service functions of UGI in the capital core area in Beijing
produce significant ecological and economic benefits.
3.3. The Distribution of ES Value of Existing Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) in Central Beijing
This article takes the established ES evaluation from the above investigation and
translates it into a spatial pattern that is based on the UGI patterns of different communities.
The established spatial pattern further analyzes the characteristics of the distribution of ES
value for existing UGI in the capital core area of Beijing. In general, the various economic
services (and therefore their benefits and functions) were not equally provided across the
entire study area, as shown in Figure 3.
We classified the 32 communities into seven levels by the total value of their ES
(Figure 3A–G). Our results indicate the Tiantan community with the largest urban park, the
Temple of Heaven historical park, generated the greatest climate regulation value (CNY
102,594,512/year) (Figure 3B), carbon sequestration, and oxygen production value (CNY
151,453,951/year) (Figure 3C), noise reduction value (CNY
1,656,888/year) (Figure 3E),
air pollution reduction value (CNY
1,692,784/year) (Figure 3F), and cultural service value
56,267,225/year) (Figure 3G) of all 32 communities in our case study. In fact, this
community had the largest cultural service value provided by UGI across our whole study.
The Tiantan community values were closely followed by the Longtan, Zhanlanlu, and
Hepingli communities in the northern region (Figure 3A).
For the ES values of water control and conservation (Figure 3D), the Tiantan com-
munity also contributed the highest value in our study, with an outcome worth CNY
617,270/year. These results are closely seconded by the Shichahai community, which
possesses a water control and conservation ES value of CNY
399,605/year and boasts the
largest water and wetland area in our case study (Figure 3D). By contrast, the Jiaodaokou
community adjacent to the central axis of Beijing saw the lowest values from their UGI
for climate regulation (CNY
483,936/year), carbon sequestration and oxygen production
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 11 of 19
714,357/year), and noise reduction (CNY
2813/year) and air pollution reduction
(CNY ¥ 7984/year).
Figure 3.
The distribution of ES value of existing Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) in the capital core area of Beijing.
(A) The
distribution of total ES value of UGI; (
) The distribution of climate regulation value of UGI; (
) The distribution of
carbon sequestration and oxygen production value of UGI; (
) The distribution of water control and conservation value of
UGI; (
) The distribution of reducing noise value of UGI; (
) The distribution of reducing air pollution value of UGI; and
(G) The distribution of cultural service value of UGI.
Our study also indicated that communities along the Chang’an Road (Rongshu,
Dashanlan, Qianmen, Chongwenmen) bear similarly poor performance when it comes to
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 12 of 19
the ES values of climate regulation (<CNY
2,084,649/year), carbon sequestration, and
oxygen production (<CNY
3,093,423/year), noise reduction (<CNY
12,120/year), and
air pollution reduction (<CNY
34,396/year). Among these communities, the Dashilan
community also had the lowest water control and conservation values (CNY
a result nearly the same as the Jiaodaokou community (CNY ¥6396/year).
In sum, the overall distribution of UGI-generated ES values for the capital core area of
Beijing is unequal between different communities. The variable nature of this distribution
could provide a new basis on which decision-makers and urban planners improve their
personal understanding of the local impacts of UGI. It also has the potential to aid in the
achievement of justifiable, effective, and strategic green space resource allocation.
4. Discussion
Our analysis revealed that the urban green infrastructure (UGI) located in the capital
core area of Beijing provides an ecosystem service (ES) value worth an estimated CNY
1.56 billion annually. This result happens to be the first evaluation that targets the specific
ecosystem service value of established UGI projects in Beijing. Individual benefits to locals
in the area amounted to an estimated CNY
918.32 per household per year, where previous
studies in this niche studying China saw only CNY
295.36 per year as recently as 2010 [
Our results further determined that the ES values generated by existing UGI in central
Beijing are higher than China’s national standard.
Existing literature on ES evaluations mainly focused on large-scale studies at the
national and regional levels [
]. When it comes to ES evaluations in an urban context,
distinct communities and districts are rarely considered. In China, for instance, Ouyang
conducted a study to evaluate the ES of China’s terrestrial ecosystem and its ecological and
economic value [
]. That study combined China’s national conditions and comprehen-
sively used ecological and economic methods to analyze the value of China’s terrestrial
ecosystem. Although it was widely regarded as a classic and effective method per the
evaluation of ES along with various ecosystem types, the cultural service dimension re-
lating closely to individual wellbeing in an urban context often goes unconsidered when
evaluating economic value. Aside from that, the provisional services were reconsidered for
a high-density urban context that does not contain productive farmlands nor forestland.
Thus, some parameters in our calculation method have been adjusted in view of our case
study’s target area, i.e., a historical and cultural city with a highly dense population.
The highest economic benefit provided by UGI in the core capital region of Beijing was
generated from carbon sequestration and oxygen production (46.32% of the total), followed
by climate regulation benefits (31.41%), and cultural service benefits (21.28%). In recent
studies of a larger scale, provisional services always contributed the majority of the local
ES value, since larger swaths of land are used for food and materials production [
Unlike prior studies, we adopted a more suitable ES evaluation system for an urban
environment to estimate the true value of UGI in high-density areas that do not contain a
lot of productive farms or grasslands.
Our findings were similar to other urban-context evaluations, where the largest ES
value that urban ecosystems provide is through carbon sequestration and oxygen produc-
tion [
], as well as other climate regulation benefits. The monetary value generated
through air pollution control alone, at CNY
8,075,575 in our case study, was higher than
previous studies from Guangzhou (CNY
901,900) [
], regardless of their similarities in
density and historical context. The different values on the axes of air pollution control were
caused by different standards in processing costs for SO
in each region. Our result was,
therefore, in line with the SO
processing costs listed by the current evaluation report on
the cost of municipal solid waste incineration in Beijing [
]. Finally, the estimated total
ES value generated for each individual from local UGI in the capital core area of Beijing
91.76 per capita) was lower than the per capita value found in studies from other
metropolises across China, for instance, Shenzhen, which recorded an ES value of CNY
7205.4 per capita [
] in 2005. Built within the last 40 years, Shenzhen city owned a much
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 13 of 19
higher ratio of green space per capita (16.1 m
) [
] than the core area of Beijing (6.37 m
This result indicated that green space areas might directly contribute to human wellbeing
in the surrounding area. This differs from the small proportion of cultural services in other
ecosystems of some previous studies [
]. Our result indicated that cultural services also
contributed a large percentage of the total economic value of ES (21.8%) provided by the
UGI system in the area with rich historical and tourism resources. These results were in
line with the values estimated by Li et al. (2012) per the cultural ecosystem values for green
spaces in Beijing.
Our study further differentiated itself from other research in this field via its focus
on the functional assessments of cultural services [
]. For instance, our study first in-
corporated cultural services into a total economic value estimation that contrasts other
ecosystem services in an urban context. As such, our result also intuitively addressed UGI
contributions in favor of resident wellbeing on a spiritual dimension via the quantification
of these (sometimes intangible) cultural services.
Our analysis provided additional insight into ES value distributions as provided by
UGI in different communities. Our results addressed even those communities where UGI
generates lower ES value—information that has the potential to support urban decision-
makers and urban planners as they work to understand the contributions that UGI may
have for urban ecosystems. The intent for these stakeholders would be to identify potential
directions for green space planning strategies in those communities with lower ES values
and to engage differing development perspectives.
Our resultant per-community distribution of total ES value was directly affected
by the land cover of local UGI. This effect may be explained by previous studies [
which address proxies (e.g., estimates of service for a particular land cover type) that
are frequently used to examine the distribution and congruence of ecosystem services.
Our results also indicated that the distribution of various single ES values within each
community are closely related to the total area of forest and grassland since tree cover
constitutes a simple and effective way to establish climate regulation, carbon sequestration
and oxygen production, noise reduction, and air pollution reduction. The efficiency of
atmospheric cleansing by trees in congested Chinese cities could therefore be improved by
planting more trees as opposed to simple shrubs or grass to diversify species composition
and biomass structure, and to provide sound green space management. The implications
for greenery design were discussed with a view of maximizing this ecosystem service in
Chinese cities and other developing metropolises. Similar findings have been confirmed by
the booming ES value evaluations found in prior studies of other ecosystem types [
Scholars have long known that vegetative height and leaf traits (i.e., dry leaf matter)
were response mechanisms that strongly influence a land’s use and abiotic environment,
with follow-up effects on surrounding ecosystem properties. Such traits could therefore
be used as functional markers of the aforementioned ES values. Moreover, since only
one assessment exists per CES in Beijing’s central, historical district [
], we addressed
individual communities located at different geographical and demographic intersections
throughout Beijing and found they provide the highest CES value due to their high-density
heritage make-up and the recreational centers and streets which occupy the area. The public
survey portion of our study addressed, for example, that the Niujie community, which
provided the highest cultural service value due to a strong sense of cultivated belonging
between the residents of its close-knit Muslim community. However, the distribution of
the CES values generated by UGI in our result did differ from the CES rates produced by
the more built-up areas known to central Beijing, at least from a public perspective. In this
context, our results revealed a distribution of UGI cultural service values at the community
level to address community specifics. For instance, communities like Tiantan, Longtan, and
Shichahai have the largest urban park areas (such as the Temple of Heaven historical park
and Shichahai park) and possess the highest cultural service value as a direct result of UGI.
The differences in these findings may be explained by previous studies on the impact of
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 14 of 19
land cover proxies, and how when used, would often not fit well with primary qualitative
data such as public preferences [60].
However, there may be some limitations in this study. Our CES assessment is based
on the general CES value provided by green spaces per hectare in Beijing because of
data accessibility. For our cultural services assessment, data collection has always been a
difficult point since there are many types of cultural service products. Furthermore, usable
objective data for value calculations as a direct result of cultural services are hard to collect.
The value of each kind of cultural service product, i.e., recreation, tourism, and aesthetic
and cultural heritage, remain to be explored. Deeper research is needed to evaluate each
CES separately. For instance, outdoor leisure, recreation, and the cultural heritage values
that result from UGI could be assessed via a person’s willingness to pay for travel or
living costs, determined with the travel cost method (TCM) or the hedonic pricing method
(HPM) [
]. Moreover, the beneficial mental and physical health effects that come as
a result of direct contact with a natural environment can be valued in monetary terms
and via health-related quality of life indicators. Further studies will require more public
participation surveys to determine local resident perceptions and will need to consult social-
economic demographics (like property prices on the local housing market) to establish a
truly detailed CES assessment.
A final limitation of this study relates to the generalizability of our results is the feature
of our case study area; certainly, the capital core area in Beijing is the most population-dense
city in China. It is, therefore, still unclear whether factors like city scale and context (i.e.,
UGI benefits in larger or smaller, or older or newer cities) will impact the consistency of
the ES value resulting from UGI. These unknown considerations may limit our ability to
generalize our results to other, smaller cities. Thus, an exploration of UGI’s most common
ES features across different urban contexts and scales could be a future avenue of significant
study on this topic.
5. Conclusions
Our study assessed the economic value of ecosystem services (ES) provided by UGI
in the capital core region of Beijing, one of the most high-density, long-standing areas in
China. In this study, we established the economic value of these services across six ES types,
including climate regulation, carbon sequestration and oxygen production, water control
and conservation, noise reduction, air pollution reduction, and cultural services. From
our results, we concluded that UGI in the capital core area of Beijing generates an annual
ecosystem service value of approximately CNY
1,561,152,227. This was a significant
fiscal impact that all policymakers must recognize and incorporate into their future urban
planning and management decisions.
At the community level for this target area, we also indicated a distribution pattern
for ES values. We addressed the trend of how UGI, located in and around the communities
along the south-central Chang’an Road, provided the lowest ecosystem service values and
considered why they may demand more investment and planning strategies from local
UGI projects. The findings of our study also have greater policy implications in terms of
understanding the current ES values that exist within the capital core area of Beijing, as
well as assessing the development of future strategic planning of local UGI.
To close out this paper, we have provided a few recommendations which naturally
emerge from this research:
Diversify greenery designs. As tree cover closely affects various kinds of ES values,
the ES efficiencies generated by ethical UGI in congested Chinese urban contexts could
be improved by planting more trees (other than shrubs or grass), diversifying species
composition and biomass structure, and providing sound green space management.
Promote public participation for alternative public green space management at the
community level. The benefit of the total CES value provided by other public green
spaces could be improved via increased participation of residents, often accomplished
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 15 of 19
when various aspects of CES are improved, including a local sense of belonging, social
connection, and recreational activity.
Increase investment in micro-green spaces in communities with lower ES values.
This measure may enhance the total UGI area of high-density historical regions in
an urban context, as well as improve the accessibility of residents nearby, all to
alleviate an existing, non-equal distribution of green space resources. The overall
intent and results must contribute to and improve resident wellbeing in the target
surrounding area.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, H.X.; methodology, G.Z.; software, G.Z.; validation, H.X.;
formal analysis, G.Z.; resources, H.X.; data curation, H.X.; writing—original draft preparation, H.X.;
writing—review and editing, H.X. and G.Z.; visualization, G.Z.; project administration, H.X. All
authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
This research received the support from the funding of young scholar development project
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable.
Data Availability Statement: Not applicable.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Appendix A
Table A1.
Below are the basic parameters, methods, and data sources used in this study to estimate the annual value of
major ecosystem services, as generated by UGI in central Beijing.
Ecosystem Service Evaluation Method Description of Annual Value Estimate Sources
Climate regulation Replacement cost method
Climate regulation Equation (1):
Annual benefit = Area of forestland
Amount of trees
per hectare for forestland ×Amount of air
conditioners provided same Climate same benefits as
one tree ×air conditioners working hours per day ×
air conditioners working days per year ×the
economic value of power consumption of each air
conditioner per hour.
Amount of trees per hectare for forestland = 100
Amount of air conditioners provided same
Climate same benefits as one tree = 10 units
Air conditioner working hours per day = 20 h
Air conditioners working days per year = 60 days
The economic value of power consumption of
each air conditioner per hour = CNY
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 16 of 19
Table A1. Cont.
Ecosystem Service Evaluation Method Description of Annual Value Estimate Sources
Carbon sequestration
and oxygen production
Carbon tax method
Market price method
Carbon sequestration Equation (2.1):
Annual benefit = (Area of forestland ×The efficiency
of forestland absorption for CO2+ Area of grassland
×The efficiency of grassland absorption for CO2)×
Price of carbon tax.
The efficiency of forestland absorption for CO2
means the weight of carbon absorbed by per
hectare of forestland in each year = 365 t/(a
The efficiency of grassland absorption for
CO2= 131.4 t/(a·hm2)
Price of carbon tax = CNY ¥254.18/t(CO2)
Oxygen production Equation (2.2):
Annual benefit = Area of forestland ×the economic
value of O2produced by per hectare of forestland +
Area of grassland ×the economic value of O2
produced by per hectare of grassland
Oxygen produced per hectare of forestland in
each year = CNY ¥821,250/(hm2).
Oxygen produced per hectare of grassland in
each year = CNY ¥262.8/(hm2).
Total benefit of Carbon sequestration and oxygen
= Annual benefit of Carbon sequestration
+ Annual benefit
Water control and
conservation Shadow project approach
Water control and conservation Equation (3):
Annual benefit = Area of (forest land + water +
wetland) ×average annual precipitation in flood
season of Beijing ×cost of flood control project per
cubic meter
Average annual precipitation in Beijing in flood
season = 547.5 mm;
Cost of flood control project per cubic meter of
storage capacity = CNY ¥0.67/m3
Noise reduction Afforestation cost method
Noise reduction Equation (4):
Average net annual value = 15% ×Cost of
afforestation per cubic meter ×Volume of mature
forest per hectare ×Area of forestland
Cost of afforestation per cubic meter = CNY
Volume of mature forest per hectare =
80 m3/hm2.
Sustainability 2021,13, 12115 17 of 19
Table A1. Cont.
Ecosystem Service Evaluation Method Description of Annual Value Estimate Sources
Air pollution reduction Replacement cost method
SO2 absorption Equation (5.1):
Annual benefit = Area of forest land ×the weight of
NOx aborted by per hectare forestland ×the cost of
SO2governance per ton
Weight of SO2aborted by per hectare forestland
= 0.15205 t/hm2
Cost of SO2governance per ton = CNY ¥3000/t
NOx absorption Equation (5.2):
Annual benefit = Area of forest land ×the weight of
NOx aborted by per hectare forestland ×the cost of
NOx governance per ton
Weight of NOx aborted by per hectare forestland
= 0.38 t/hm2
Cost of SO
governance per ton = CNY
Dust reduction Equation (5.3):
Annual benefit = Area of forest land ×the weight of
dust aborted by per hectare forestland ×the cost of
dust governance per ton
Weight of dust aborted and reduced by per
hectare forestland = 21.65 t/hm2
Cost of dust governance per ton = CNY ¥170/t
Total benefit of Air pollution reduction = Annual
benefit of SO2absorption + Annual benefit of NOx
absorption + Annual benefit of dust reduction
Cultural service Market Price Method
Cultural service Equation (6):
Average net annual value = Area of each kind of green
space ×value of CES provided by each type of green
space in Beijing
CES provided by Park in Beijing = CNY
CES provided by other public green space in
Beijing = CNY ¥16.70/m2
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... Since the 1990s, greenway planning had already attracted increased attention from both scholars and regional administrators as a potential avenue to foster connections between local cultural and natural resources-resources which could also contribute to local development through the provision of multiple functions such as recreation, biodiversity conservation, heritage, education, and so on. Greenway planning projects have thus been promoted across the world for decades now by countless urban administrators [6][7][8][9][10]. For high-density urban municipalities, greenways are commonly regarded as just as valuable a green resource as other green open spaces; indeed, both equally serve to improve quality of life within neighborhoods, which are often crowded due to land constraints and high population. ...
... However, since CGPs in an urban context rely on the integration of cultural, historical, and civilian values-mostly in the form of space and infrastructure-it is valuable to understand and quantify the extent to which cultural greenway projects influence neighborhood estate prices in high-density urban municipalities like central Beijing. Current literature on greenway project contributions mainly focus on their ecological benefits, such as climate regulation, carbon sequestration, oxygen production, and biodiversity conservation [7][8][9][10]. Even though the social aspects of greenways has attracted increasing research attention in decades in both China and western world [11][12][13][14], few existing studies quantify and evaluate the social-economic benefit of CGPs, nor do they record their contribution in landscape performance series (LPS) analyses, various ecosystem service value assessments, cost-benefit analyses, travel cost analysis (TCM), the contingent valuation method (CVM), nor the cross-sectional hedonic price method using past sales transactions [15][16][17][18]. ...
... Our study area focused on the "capital core area" of Beijing, which itself is the capital city of China, and the most densely populated city. Because Beijing is a historical city, the central core of the city-including the Dongcheng and Xicheng districts of Beijing that span an area of 92.5 km 2 -is endowed with the full function of the country's political, cultural, and international exchange [7,33] (Figure 1). The area also serves as a key conservation area for Chinese historical and cultural heritage, and offers a window through which to assess the greater urban area in and around Beijing. ...
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Cultural greenway projects (CGPs) are widely regarded as an urban planning approach which connects open green spaces and sites of sociocultural value to provide access to living, working and recreational spaces and enhance local social well-being. This paper examines the impact of such CGPs on public living desire before and after a given project is completed through analyzing housing prices in the surrounding area. We deployed a hedonic pricing model (HPM) and differences in differences (DID) model to analyze and record any changes in housing market trends that may have been caused by such a cultural greenway project. Via analysis of single-family home sale transactions in central Beijing from 2013 to 2017, we found substantial evidence that proximity to a cultural greenway project is positively linked with rising property prices. Once complete, CGPs were similarly associated with positive increases per HPM and DID modeling. Our results revealed that the distance to greenway contributed significantly positive impact on the housing market after the cultural greenway project completed. Moreover, our result indicated that once a CGP was open to the public, it increased the price of properties within 1 km by 13.3%. Seller and buyer expectations of the development of local, green public infrastructure also began to factor into housing prices prior to the greenway opening to the public. Post-completion, the positive trend in property pricing due to local CGPs indicates that the public still have an increasing desire to live near the greenway. These results will help policymakers better understand how cultural greenways affect neighborhoods in high-density urban contexts, and will support the development of urban greenway policies for cities in China that reap the maximum economic benefit.
... In addition, the public green space area per capita in Land 2022, 11,1323 4 of 20 the core area of Beijing is 6.37 m 2 ; the service radius coverage of green park space is 86.6%, and the greening coverage rate is 31.95% [63,64]. The Figure 1 illustrates the boundaries of the Core Area of Beijing. ...
... In addition, the public green space area per capita in the core area of Beijing is 6.37 m 2 ; the service radius coverage of green park space is 86.6%, and the greening coverage rate is 31.95% [63,64]. The Figure 1 illustrates the boundaries of the Core Area of Beijing. ...
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(1) Background: The issue of equity in the layout of urban green park spaces is an essential dimension of urban public resource allocation. (2) Objective: To analyze the equity of the distribution of parkland in the core area of Beijing from a quantitative and spatial perspective. By measuring both vehicular and pedestrian transport modes, the study identifies areas with low levels of green space provision and provides strategies for optimization. It is hoped that this study can provide a basis for future green space construction in the core area of Beijing. (3) Methods: In this paper, the Gauss Two-step Floating Catchment Area Method (Ga2SFCA) is used to study the green park space layout in the core area of Beijing. The two modes of 30min-walk and 10min-car-journey were used to measure the fair values of the residential unit scale, the street district scale, and the overall scale, respectively. (4) Results: The study results show that the fair values based on the 30-min walk and the 10-min car journey differ significantly. For the 30-min walk-based travel mode, the proportion of fair (Class IV) and fairer (Class V) areas is approximately 20%, while for the 10 min car-based travel mode, the corresponding class is over 90%. (5) Conclusions: The overall equity of urban parkland in Beijing core area is better for car-based travel modes, while for walking modes, the supply is still insufficient, and the distribution of parkland is polarized.
... This includes the methodical basics of benchmarking procedure in a frame of the Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems (SDEWES) Index application [5] and some others, such as a multilayered indicator set for urban metabolism in megacities, designed for gathering information on its biophysical characteristics and metabolic flows [6]. Large number of papers are also focusing on a wide range of specific aspects of the complex relationship between social and economical activities and sustainability in the cities, such as environmental and social effects of the differentiated carbon tax on production and emissions reduction decisions [7], assessment of potential benefits from investment in renewable energy supply facilities [8], the impact of the new Ambient Air Quality Standards implementation on urban air quality's characteristics [9], consumption choices and per capita carbon dioxide emissions of the different categories of household consumption [10] or city's planning structure and green spaces and their role in urban management [11], [12], etc. ...
This work aims to map and assess the recreational culture ecosystem services (CES) supply and demand in Vilnius. A novel framework individually assessed natural recreational CES supply and cultural recreational CES supply dimensions. So far, the previous works did not consider both CES components individually. Also, the validation of CES models is scarce and challenging. This work aims to map and assess natural recreational supply CES, cultural recreational CES supply, natural + cultural recreational CES supply, and cultural recreational CES demand. The results showed that the natural recreational CES supply dimension was the highest in protected areas. In contrast, the cultural, recreational CES supply dimension had the highest scores in the city centre. Natural + cultural recreational CES supply was high in the areas where the previous models had the highest values (e.g., protected areas and the city centre). The natural + cultural recreational CES supply model was validated using an online survey. Recreational CES demand was the highest in the areas near the city centre. There was a mismatch between the natural recreational CES supply and recreational demand. Nevertheless, we identified a match between cultural recreational CES supply dimension, Natural + cultural recreational CES supply and recreation CES demand. All the studied parameters had a clustered pattern. The natural recreational CES supply dimension had a hot spot in the northern part of the city. In contrast, cultural recreational CES supply dimension, Natural + cultural recreational CES supply and recreational CES demand were clustered in the city centre. Overall, it is vital to preserve the areas with maximum natural recreation CES supply and limit the urban expansion in these areas. Also, it is essential to reduce the car traffic to the centre and improve public transport accessibility to increase air quality and the impact of pollutants on cultural heritage sites.
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The paper addresses the problem of urban road noise, in the context of the European legislative requirements regarding noise pollution. The second noise mapping in Pitesti city, revealed that despite the proposed action plan after the first noise mapping, the noise pollution increased instead of decreasing. Considering that the proposed measures were insufficient to control road noise in the conditions of the estimated increase in road traffic, the authors developed complex research to identify how the road noise level is determined by the way of regulation of road traffic at intersections of the residential zone. Thus, noise and traffic measurements are made at the main road intersections in the central part of the city, determining the most relevant noise indicators for the specifics of urban traffic and residential areas. The results obtained lead to the conclusion that roundabouts bring a reduction in noise pollution compared to traffic light intersections only if the speed of vehicles in the roundabout is predictable: on preselected lanes and with speed timing.
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This study was conducted to determine the trends at the intersection of studies made on green infrastructure and ecosystem services, which have frequently become preferred in establishing urban−green space relationships in global research. Green-related concepts have frequently been used from past to present in order to neutralise the increasing pressures on urban dynamics resulting from rapid urbanisation. Green corridor, green belt, green structure, and green finger/hand concepts have been used to provide recreational opportunities, protect nature, and keep urban sprawl under control. For the last decade, however, in addition to the traditional green concepts, green infrastructure (GI) and ecosystem services (ES) have been preferred in contemporary urban planning , as they enable the integration of the ecological concerns of the landscape and the socio-political perspective. The aim of this study is to detect the trends of the green infrastructure and ecosystem services association, and to reveal these trends in the common area with the bibliometric mapping method. The economic concept and its analysing use at the intersection of green infrastructure and ecosystem services were explored with VOSviewer using the Scopus ® database. Furthermore, the number of documents, which initially began with around 39,719 studies, was reduced by filtering through systematic reviews, to only three documents that met the economic valuation criteria. In this way, a lack of economic analyses, creating a serious research gap within the framework of green infrastructure and ecosystem services, was quantitatively determined.
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More communities around the world are recognizing the benefits of green infrastructure (GI) and are planting millions of trees to improve air quality and overall well-being in cities. However, there is a need for accurate tools that can measure and value these benefits whilst also informing the community and city managers. In recent years, several online tools have been developed to assess ecosystem services. However, the reliability of such tools depends on the incorporation of local or regional data and site-specific inputs. In this communication, we have reviewed two of the freely available tools (i.e., i-Tree Canopy and the United Kingdom Office for National Statistics) using Bristol City Centre as an example. We have also discussed strengths and weaknesses for their use and, as tree planting strategy tools, explored further developments of such tools in a European context. Results show that both tools can easily calculate ecosystem services such as air pollutant removal and monetary values and at the same time be used to support GI strategies in compact cities. These tools, however, can only be partially utilized for tree planting design as they do not consider soil and root space, nor do they include drawing and painting futures. Our evaluation also highlights major gaps in the current tools, suggesting areas where more research is needed.
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In the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), the Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) has been traditionally targeted at reducing flood risk. However, other Ecosystem Services (ES) became increasingly relevant in response to the challenges of urbanization and climate change. In total, 90 scientific articles addressing ES considered crucial contributions to the quality of life in cities are reviewed. These are classified as (1) regulating ES that minimize hazards such as heat, floods, air pollution and noise, and (2) cultural ES that promote well-being and health. We conclude that the planning and design of UGI should balance both the provision of ES and their side effects and disservices, aspects that seem to have been only marginally investigated. Climate-sensitive planning practices are critical to guarantee that seasonal climate variability is accounted for at high-latitude regions. Nevertheless, diverging and seemingly inconsistent findings, together with gaps in the understanding of long-term effects, create obstacles for practitioners. Additionally, the limited involvement of end users points to a need of better engagement and communication, which in overall call for more collaborative research. Close relationships and interactions among different ES provided by urban greenery were found, yet few studies attempted an integrated evaluation. We argue that promoting interdisciplinary studies is fundamental to attain a holistic understanding of how plant traits affect the resulting ES; of the synergies between biophysical, physiological and psychological processes; and of the potential disservices of UGI, specifically in Nordic cities.
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This paper examines the ecosystem service values of Jiangxi province, China using the benefit transfer approach. The land cover dynamics results show that cropland and forest are the main land cover types in Jiangxi province. Urban land drastically increased after 2000, expanding from 846.54 km2 in 2000 to 2317.48 km2 in 2015. Forest and water obviously decreased across the study periods. Consequently, the total ecosystem service values decreased from 37.91 × 1010 Yuan in 1995 to 35.27 × 1010 Yuan in 2015. The values showed a declining trend, especially during the 1995–2000 period. The largest declines in ecosystem service values were caused by decreases in forest and water cover. Regulating services experienced the largest declines in ecosystem services value. Moreover, water supply showed the largest decline in ecosystem service value between 1995 and 2015. Not surprisingly, food production increased in the whole period, especially in the 1995–2000 period. Forest and cropland played the most important roles in the total ecosystem service values of Jiangxi province. We then discussed the relationship among ecosystem services based on the ecosystem service trade-off degree. The results show that the dominant relationship among ecosystem services in Jiangxi province was synergy; thus synergy mostly occurred in all ecosystem services except for food production from 1995 to 2015. However, during the 1995–2000 period, trade-offs mainly existed in both food production and waste treatment. The proportion of synergy greatly increased in the 2000–2015 period, and the synergistic relationship between waste treatment and other ecosystem services increased. However, the trade-off relationship between food production and other ecosystem services still has not improved, which should be concerned in the future. Changes in the percentage share of cropland showed a declining trend; thus, the potential risk of cropland loss should be monitored.
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Managing stormwater on urban surfaces with blue-green infrastructure (BGI) is being increasingly adopted as an alternative to conventional pipe-based stormwater management in cities. BGI combats water problems and provides multiple benefits for cities, including improved livability and enhanced biodiversity. The paper examines six municipality-led pilot projects from Beijing and Copenhagen, through a review of documents, site observations and interviews with project managers. Beijing’s projects attempt to divert from a pipe-based approach but are dominated by less BGI-based solutions; they could benefit from more integration of multiple benefits with stormwater management. Copenhagen’s projects combine stormwater management with amenity improvement, but lack focus on stormwater utilization. Reviewed municipality-led pilot projects are shown to play an important role in both testing new solutions and upscaling them in the process of developing more sustainable cities. Key lessons are extracted and a simple guideline synthesized. This guideline suggests necessary considerations for a holistic solution that combines stormwater management and urban space improvements. Key lessons for sustainable solutions include defining a clear water technique priority, targeting both small and big rain events, strengthening ‘vertical design’ and providing multiple benefits. An integrated stormwater management and landscape design process is a prerequisite to the meaningful implementation of these solutions. Research and documentation integrated with pilot projects will help upscale the practice at city scale.
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As evidence for the devastating impacts of air pollution on human health continues to increase, improving urban air quality has become one of the most pressing tasks facing policy makers world-wide. Increasingly, and very often on the basis of conflicting and/or weak evidence, the introduction of green infrastructure (GI) is seen as a win–win solution to urban air pollution, reducing ground-level concentrations without imposing restrictions on traffic and other polluting activities. The impact of GI on air quality is highly context dependent, with models suggesting that GI can improve urban air quality in some situations, but be ineffective or even detrimental in others. Here we set out a novel conceptual framework explaining how and where GI can improve air quality, and offer six specific policy interventions, underpinned by research, that will always allow GI to improve air quality. We call GI with unambiguous benefits for air quality GI4AQ. However, GI4AQ will always be a third-order option for mitigating air pollution, after reducing emissions and extending the distance between sources and receptors.
Representing the economic value of recreation generated by natural ecosystems can provide a powerful incentive for their conservation. Demonstrating value, however, requires resource-intensive surveys or reliance on techniques which transfer value from other sites. Recent technological developments have contributed to an abundance of georeferenced public data as an alternative for exploring human-nature interactions, offering a potential substitute to costly and time-consuming visitor surveys and their commonly adopted alternative for the valuation of recreation, value transfer. Here, we (1) integrate data crowdsourced from geotagged photographs from social media into the travel cost method non-market valuation technique and (2) validate the results with value estimates generated using representative on-site surveys for German national parks and value transfer techniques. As expected from standard economic and consumer demand theory for ordinary goods, we find downsloping demand curves. Consumer surplus for access to the parks ranges between €16.54 and €34.90 (2016 rates). Value estimates are significantly correlated with those generated by on-site surveys, with a mean absolute error of €4.93 and a mean absolute percentage error of 22%, outperforming basic unit value transfer. We highlight the entailed, unprecedented opportunities to extend the scope and reduce costs of research seeking to value outdoor recreation.
As a response to increasing urbanization and changing weather and climatic patterns, urban green infrastructure (UGI) emerged as a concept to increase resilience within the urban boundaries. Given that implementing these (semi-) natural solutions in practice requires a clear overview of the costs and benefits, valuation becomes ever important. A range of decision-support tools for green infrastructure and ecosystem services exist, developed for various purposes. This paper reviews the potential of 10 shortlisted and existing valuation tools to support investment decisions of urban green infrastructure. In the assessment, the functionality is regarded specifically from the urban planning and decision-making viewpoint. The toolkits were evaluated on 12 different criteria. After analyzing the toolkits on these criteria, the findings are evaluated on the (mis)match with specific requirements in the urban planning and management context. Secondly, recommendations and guidelines are formulated to support the design of simple valuation tools, tailored to support the development of green infrastructure in urban areas. Approaching the valuation toolkits biophysically and (socio-)economically provides an integral overview of the challenges and opportunities of the capacities of each framework. It was found that most tools are not designed for the peculiarities of the urban context. Several elements contribute to the hampering uptake of GI valuation tools. Firstly, the limited effort in the economic case for green infrastructure remains a burden to use toolkits to compare grey and green alternatives. Secondly, tools are currently seldom designed for the peculiarities of cities: urban ecosystem (dis)services, multi-scalability, life-span assessments of co-benefits and the importance of social benefits. Thirdly, toolkits should be the result of co-development between the scientific community and local authorities in order to create toolkits that are tailor made to the specific needs in the urban planning process. It can be concluded that current tools, are not readily applicable to support decision making as such. However, if applied cautiously, they can have an indicative role to pinpoint further targeted and in-depth analyses.
Green Infrastructure (GI) is defined as a network of natural and semi-natural areas that is strategically designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services and to enhance human wellbeing. In Europe, the GI concept has been strongly related to the concepts of multifunctionality, climate change, and green growth, particularly in the last decade, leading to a research and policy agenda that varies greatly, targeting different audiences and topics. Here, we provide an up-to-date review of the key characteristics of GI research by focusing on the countries of the European Union. We consider the conceptualizations of GI, key research priorities, and thematic clusters within the existing literature. We demonstrate that the ambiguous definition of GI has generated a high diversity in research objectives and outputs. We also show that urban green spaces and ecosystems services are the most frequent topics and that more research is needed on the social aspects of GI. We suggest that an explicit incorporation of both nature conservation and social-environmental justice goals is essential for GI research to support sustainability transitions within and beyond the city.