Ecosystem Services in Urban Landscapes: Practical Applications and Governance Implications – The URBES Approach
Journal article, 2014
Urban landscapes are the everyday environment for the majority of the global population and almost 80 per cent of Europeans live in urban areas. The continuous growth in the number and size of urban areas along with an increasing demand on resources and energy pose great challenges for ensuring human welfare in cities while preventing an increasing loss of biodiversity. The understanding of how urban ecosystems function, provide goods and services for urban dwellers, how they change and what allows and limits their performance, can add to the understanding of ecosystem change and governance in an ever more human-dominated world. This contribution aims at presenting results from the European biodiversa project, "Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem
Services - URBES", that bridges the knowledge gap between urbanization, demand, creation and provisioning of ecosystem services in urban regions, and urban governance and planning. First, we highlight new, highly interdisciplinary concepts for characterizing need and provisioning of ecosystem services (and biodiversity) in urban landscapes and along rural-urban gradients. Second, we introduce new empirical results and integrated analytical tools for investigating urban environments, particularly urban green spaces, for different European cities. Third, we show the implications of both new concepts and analytical tools for urban governance and planning policy currently and in the future.