Landscape Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 1447–1463 | Cite as

Supplying urban ecosystem services through multifunctional green infrastructure in the United States

  • Sarah Taylor Lovell
  • John R. Taylor
Landscape Ecology in Review


This paper summarizes a strategy for supplying ecosystem services in urban areas through a participatory planning process targeting multifunctional green infrastructure. We draw from the literature on landscape multifunctionality, which has primarily been applied to agricultural settings, and propose opportunities to develop urban green infrastructure that could contribute to the sustainable social and ecological health of the city. Thinking in terms of system resilience, strategies might focus on the potential for green infrastructure to allow for adaptation and even transformation in the face of future challenges such as climate change, food insecurity, and limited resources. Because planning for multiple functions can be difficult when many diverse stakeholders are involved, we explored decision support tools that could be applied to green infrastructure planning in the early stages, to engage the public and encourage action toward implementing a preferred solution. Several specific ecosystem services that could be relevant for evaluating current and future urban green spaces include: plant biodiversity, food production, microclimate control, soil infiltration, carbon sequestration, visual quality, recreation, and social capital. Integrating such ecosystem services into small-scale greening projects could allow for creativity and local empowerment that would inspire broader transformation of green infrastructure at the city level. Those cities committing to such an approach by supporting greening projects are likely to benefit in the long run through the value of ecosystem services for urban residents and the broader public.


Social–ecological systems Resilience Transformation Multifunctionality Green infrastructure 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.1009 Plant Science Lab, Department of Crop SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Crop SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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