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ALTER-Net conference leads to paper on understanding urban biodiversity-ecosystem service relationships

A team led by Nina Schwarz of (University of Twente, Netherlands), has carried out a comprehensive literature review of studies on urban biodiversity ecosystem service (BES) relationships
ALTER-Net conference leads to paper on understanding urban biodiversity-ecosystem service relationships

D. Pallett © NERC-CEH

 

The positive relationship between biodiversity and urban ecosystem services is often implied in both scientific and policy literature, along with a tacit suggestion that enhancing urban green infrastructure will automatically improve both biodiversity and urban ecosystem services. However, it is unclear how much published evidence there is to support these assumptions. To find out, the authors of this paper conducted literature review of studies published between 1990 and May 2017 that examined biodiversity ecosystem service (BES) relationships.

Within the 317 publications reviewed, urban ecosystem service metrics were mentioned 944 times. However, only 228 (24%) of these mentions were tested empirically. Among these, 119 (52%) demonstrated a positive BES relationship. The literature review revealed a paucity of empirical evidence underpinning urban BES relationships. The authors conclude that 'While there is a growing body of evidence from controlled experiments in non-urban ecosystems demonstrating that biodiversity underpins ecosystem service delivery, comparatively little research on the topic has been conducted in urban areas.' In order to optimise urban biodiversity and ecosystem services, they call for more quantitative empirical urban BES research to increase our mechanistic understanding of these relationships.

This paper resulted from the workshop entitled ‘Urban biodiversity for the delivery of ecosystem services’ at the conference ‘Nature and Urban Wellbeing: Nature-Based Solutions to Societal Changes’ in Ghent, Belgium, 18-20 May 2015. The conference was organised by ALTER-Net (European Ecosystem Research Network) and European Commission.

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