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Assessing mismatches in ecosystem services proficiency across the urban fabric of Porto (Portugal): The influence of structural and socioeconomic variables

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Graça, Marisa S.; Gonçalves, João F.; Alves, Paulo J.M.; Nowak, David J.; Hoehn, Robert; Ellis, Alexis; Farinha-Marques, Paulo; Cunha, Mario.

Year Published

2017

Publication

Ecosystem Services

Abstract

According to UN estimates, it is expected that the world population living in cities will exceed 66% in 2050 (United Nations, 2014). The complex and intense interaction of ecological and socioeconomic systems shaping cities has highlighted the need to foster an interdisciplinary approach to urban issues integrating Natural and Social Sciences (Alberti et al., 2003). Recent research has also stressed the role of urban ecosystems in providing vital services to city dwellers, and the need to embody ecosystem services in urban planning practice (Ahern et al., 2014; Colding, 2011). Ecosystem services (ES) has come to light as one of the most widespread concepts of Ecology in recent years, and refers to the benefits human populations derive from ecosystems (MEA, 2005). Research on ES and the socio-ecological factors that influence their proficiency is essential to allow cities to adopt policies that lead to resource-efficient strategies (Andersson et al., 2007) and greater resilience, which supports ecological, economic and social sustainability (Berkes et al., 2003; McPhearson et al., 2015). Some benefits generated by ecosystems need to be delivered locally to be enjoyed by city inhabitants, such as clean air, runoff regulation, microclimate regulation, erosion control, storm protection and recreation. Urban green areas provide a wide range of these local ecosystem services and thus become very important to sustain human wellbeing in cities (Bolund and Hunhammar, 1999). However, many obstacles prevent ES from being widely operational in urban planning practice. Studies and assessments of urban ES many times lack operability for professionals and planners because they are not developed at a scale relevant for planning and policy decisions (Hölzinger et al., 2014) or do not address the transfer of knowledge and methods in an accessible way to stakeholders, thus providing limited clues for planning and management (Haase et al., 2014). In addition, key concepts remain controversial (Fisher et al., 2009; Hermann et al., 2011), and the lack of consistent methodologies for quantifying, visualizing and valuing ES poses challenges (Seppelt et al., 2011).

Citation

Graça, Marisa S.; Gonçalves, João F.; Alves, Paulo J.M.; Nowak, David J.; Hoehn, Robert; Ellis, Alexis; Farinha-Marques, Paulo; Cunha, Mario. 2017. Assessing mismatches in ecosystem services proficiency across the urban fabric of Porto (Portugal): The influence of structural and socioeconomic variables. Ecosystem Services. 23: 82-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.11.015.

Last updated on: September 18, 2017