Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities

pp 719-746

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.


Stewardship of the Biosphere in the Urban Era

  • Thomas ElmqvistAffiliated withStockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University Email author 
  • , Michail FragkiasAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, College of Business and Economics, Boise State University
  • , Julie GoodnessAffiliated withStockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
  • , Burak GüneralpAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Texas A&M University
  • , Peter J. MarcotullioAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY)
  • , Robert I. McDonaldAffiliated withThe Nature Conservancy
  • , Susan ParnellAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town
  • , Maria ScheweniusAffiliated withStockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
  • , Marte SendstadAffiliated withStockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
    • , Karen C. SetoAffiliated withSchool of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
    • , Cathy WilkinsonAffiliated withStockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
    • , Marina AlbertiAffiliated withDepartment of Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington
    • , Carl FolkeAffiliated withStockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
    • , Niki FrantzeskakiAffiliated withGovernance of Sustainability Transitions, Dutch Research Institute For Transitions (DRIFT), Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam
    • , Dagmar HaaseAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Humboldt Universität zu BerlinDepartment of Computational Landscape Ecology, UFZ Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
    • , Madhusudan KattiAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, California State University
    • , Harini NagendraAffiliated withAshoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Royal EnclaveCenter for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC), Indiana University
    • , Jari NiemeläAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki
    • , Steward T. A. PickettAffiliated withCary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
    • , Charles L. RedmanAffiliated withSchool of Sustainability, Arizona State University
    • , Keith TidballAffiliated withDepartment of Natural Resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University


We are entering a new urban era in which the ecology of the planet as a whole is increasingly influenced by human activities (Ellis 2011; Steffen et al. 2011a, b; Folke et al. 2011). Cities have become a central nexus of the relationship between people and nature, both as crucial centres of demand of ecosystem services, and as sources of environmental impacts. Approximately 60 % of the urban land present in 2030 is forecast to be built in the period 2000–2030 (Chap. 21). Urbanization therefore presents challenges but also opportunities. In the next two to three decades, we have unprecedented chances to vastly improve global sustainability through designing systems for increased resource efficiency, as well as through exploring how cities can be responsible stewards of biodiversity and ecosystem services, both within and beyond city boundaries.