Significance of ecosystem services in urban areas: assessment, decision-making and communication

Washbourne, C-L;


Significance of ecosystem services in urban areas: assessment, decision-making and communication.

Presented at: 8th Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) World Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.


This project investigates how physical science knowledge is, and could be better, mobilized within urban decision-making and design, taking ecosystem services as the example case. Environmental factors play a critical role in supporting and maintaining rapidly growing urban communities and the concept of ecosystem services has the potential to significantly impact upon current policy considerations relating to environment, planning, land use and development. Through technical and policy data collation and communication with scientists and policy-makers at local, national and international levels, this study outlines current cases in which ecosystem services concepts have been applied to urban green space, with a view to understanding and improving the ways in which these ideas are currently framed and effected. Firstly, determining how ecosystem services approaches, when encapsulated in policy frameworks, are effected on the ground (evidence base, metrics etc.). Secondly, understanding how scientists, decision-makers and local communities discuss ecosystem services concepts in order to ascertain how such ideas propagate and evolve between communities. Framed by preliminary case studies around urban green space projects in London and South Africa, contemporary scientific and policy data relating to the application of ecosystem services to urban green space is collated to determine how these ideas are, or could be, most effectively applied in the context of wider urban environments. Examples of effective practise in assessment, communication and legislation will be drawn out, and used to construct a framework for communicating ideas and information around ecosystem services in appropriate forms to engage technical and policy communities in collaborative approaches to the topic.

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