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Scale-sensitive integration of ecosystem services in urban planning

Abstract

Maintaining green infrastructure as a source of ecosystem services is a key challenge for sustainability of urban regions. In order to support sustainable service provision, planning of this infrastructure needs to consider complex ecological and social processes operating in different timescales and varying spatially within a region. However, such scalar approaches to planning have been rare. This article addresses ways to improve scale-sensitivity in planning of urban green infrastructure, with a focus on holistic considerations of conditions for sustainable reproduction of benefits from ecosystem services. Based on information from the literature, we develop a spatially sensitized conceptual framework for addressing provision of ecosystem services in urban regions. We discuss the application of spatially sensitized scalar approaches from the perspectives of scale dimensions, an area, a service, and a green infrastructure element. We conclude that spatially sensitized scalar frameworks hold promise for addressing the provision of ecosystem services as part of planning for urban sustainability. Research on production of scales in various contexts would further enhance their usability.

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Acknowledgments

Our research is part of the interdisciplinary research programme ‘Enhancing sustainable urban development through ecosystem services’ (2011–2014), funded by the Helsinki University Centre for Environment HENVI, the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI and the Finnish Forest Research Institute METLA. We are grateful to all the project partners for the discussions on urban sustainability supporting this article, and especially to Iida Välimaa, Malgorzata Gabrych and Athanasios Votsis for actively participating in workshops where ideas were developed for identifying the different perspectives of scalar planning applications.

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Faehnle, M., Söderman, T., Schulman, H. et al. Scale-sensitive integration of ecosystem services in urban planning. GeoJournal 80, 411–425 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-014-9560-z

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Keywords

  • Green space
  • Scaling
  • Spatial planning
  • Sustainable cities