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Cascades of green: A review of ecosystem-based adaptation in urban areas

Citation: Brink, E., Aalders, T., Ádám, D., Feller, R., Henselek, Y., Hoffmann, A., Ibe, K., Matthey-Doret, A., Meyer, M., Negrut, N.L., Rau, A.-L., Riewerts, B., von Schuckmann, L., Törnros, S., von Wehrden, H., Abson, D.J., Wamsler, C., 2016. Cascades of green: A review of ecosystem-based adaptation in urban areas. Glob. Environ. Chang. 36, 111–123. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.11.003
Brink E., Aalders T., Ádám D., Feller R., Henselek Y., Hoffmann A., Ibe K., Matthey-Doret A., Meyer M., Negrut N.L., Rau A.-L., Riewerts B., von Schuckmann L., Törnros S., von Wehrden H., Abson D.J., Wamsler C., Global Environmental Change, 2016
Climate change impacts increase pressure on challenges to sustainability and the developmental needs of cities. Conventional, "hard" adaptation measures are often associated with high costs, inflexibility and conflicting interests related to the dense urban fabric, and ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) has emerged as a potentially cost-efficient, comprehensive, and multifunctional approach. This paper reviews and systematises research on urban EbA. We propose an analytical framework that draws on theory from ecosystem services, climate change adaptation and sustainability science. It conceptualises EbA in terms of five linked components: ecological structures, ecological functions, adaptation benefits, valuation, and ecosystem management practices.Our review identified 110 articles, reporting on 112 cities, and analysed them using both quantitative statistical and qualitative content analysis. We found that EbA research in an urban context is fragmented due to different disciplinary approaches and concepts. Most articles focus on heat or flooding, and the most studied ecological structures for reducing the risk of such hazards are green space, wetlands, trees and parks. EbA is usually evaluated in bio-geophysical terms and the use of economic or social valuations are rare. While most articles do not mention specific practices for managing ecological structures, those that do imply that urban EbA strategies are increasingly being integrated into institutional structures. Few articles considered issues of equity or stakeholder participation in EbA.We identified the following challenges for future EbA research. First, while the large amount of data generated by isolated case studies contributes to systems knowledge, there is a lack of systems perspectives that position EbA in relation to the wider socio-economic and bio-geophysical context. Second, normative and ethical aspects of EbA require more thought, such as who are the winners and losers, especially in relation to processes that put people at risk from climate-related hazards. Third, there is room for more forward-looking EbA research, including consideration of future scenarios, experimentation in the creation of new ecological structures and the role of EbA in transformative adaptation. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Case 11: Urban green infrastructure in Vienna - Nature-based solutions to enhancing quality of life

Citation: Shaw, B.J., 2017. Case 11: Urban green infrastructure in Vienna - Nature-based solutions to enhancing quality of life, in: The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship. pp. 239–241. doi:10.1017/9781316499016.024
Shaw B.J., The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship, 2017
The world is urbanising. Since 2005 more than half of the world population lives in cities, and by 2050 this figure is projected to be two-thirds of all people. Seventy-five per cent of Europeans already live in urban areas. City landscapes generally experience higher temperatures than the less built up areas around them, due to the absorption and retention of heat by roads and buildings and the disruption of airflow by structures, with differences of temperatures ranging from 4°C up to 10°C. This heating, known as urban heat island (UHI) effect, is exacerbated by climate change and presents serious challenges to city planners and residents. Increasing city temperatures affect the life-quality of residents through sleep disruption, productivity loss and general discomfort, and it presents a particular risk to older, more isolated and vulnerable people. More demand for cooling both in homes and in the workplace results in increasing energy consumption and associated carbon dioxide pollution. In Vienna, officials from city planning and environmental departments as well as researchers from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences and the Technical University have been looking at what urban planning instruments are available to mitigate UHI effects in the city. The resulting Strategy Plan was published by the Department of Environmental Protection (MA22) in Vienna in 2015. Aims The aim of the Strategy Plan is to show ways in which negative UHI effects in the city of Vienna can be reduced, thereby avoiding the corresponding health issues that arise from overheating. The plan focuses on the role of water and green infrastructure in the city in alleviating UHI effects, both in terms of what existing structures already contribute to cooling, as well as what potential there is to increase green infrastructure through planning instruments. How It Works Green space in a city can mitigate UHI effects by reducing surface heat absorption, increasing solar energy reflection and water retention, as well as cooling warmer spaces nearby through heat diffusion. Therefore, an area highlighted by the Strategy Plan is the transformation of concrete and sealed surfaces into living foliage. © Cambridge University Press 2017.

Challenges for tree officers to enhance the provision of regulating ecosystem services from urban forests

Citation: Davies, H.J., Doick, K.J., Hudson, M.D., Schreckenberg, K., 2017. Challenges for tree officers to enhance the provision of regulating ecosystem services from urban forests. Environ. Res. 156, 97–107. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2017.03.020
Davies H.J., Doick K.J., Hudson M.D., Schreckenberg K., Environmental Research, 2017
Urbanisation and a changing climate are leading to more frequent and severe flood, heat and air pollution episodes in Britain's cities. Interest in nature-based solutions to these urban problems is growing, with urban forests potentially able to provide a range of regulating ecosystem services such as stormwater attenuation, heat amelioration and air purification. The extent to which these benefits are realized is largely dependent on urban forest management objectives, the availability of funding, and the understanding of ecosystem service concepts within local governments, the primary delivery agents of urban forests. This study aims to establish the extent to which British local authorities actively manage their urban forests for regulating ecosystem services, and identify which resources local authorities most need in order to enhance provision of ecosystem services by Britain's urban forests. Interviews were carried out with staff responsible for tree management decisions in fifteen major local authorities from across Britain, selected on the basis of their urban nature and high population density. Local authorities have a reactive approach to urban forest management, driven by human health and safety concerns and complaints about tree disservices. There is relatively little focus on ensuring provision of regulating ecosystem services, despite awareness by tree officers of the key role that urban forests can play in alleviating chronic air pollution, flood risk and urban heat anomalies. However, this is expected to become a greater focus in future provided that existing constraints – lack of understanding of ecosystem services amongst key stakeholders, limited political support, funding constraints – can be overcome. Our findings suggest that the adoption of a proactive urban forest strategy, underpinned by quantified and valued urban forest-based ecosystem services provision data, and innovative private sector funding mechanisms, can facilitate a change to a proactive, ecosystem services approach to urban forest management. � 2017 The Authors

Championing nature-based solutions

IUCN: Championing nature-based solutions

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IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature (url - youtube channel)

Find out about the importance of nature-based solutions in tackling one of humanity's greatest challenges.

Characterisation of nature-based solutions for the built environment

Citation: Xing, Y., Jones, P., Donnison, I., 2017. Characterisation of nature-based solutions for the built environment. Sustain. doi:10.3390/su9010149
Xing Y., Jones P., Donnison I., Sustainability (Switzerland), 2017
Nature has provided humankind with food, fuel, and shelter throughout evolutionary history. However, in contemporary cities, many natural landscapes have become degraded and replaced with impermeable hard surfaces (e.g., roads, paving, car parks and buildings). The reversal of this trend is dynamic, complex and still in its infancy. There are many facets of urban greening initiatives involving multiple benefits, sensitivities and limitations. The aim of this paper is to develop a characterisation method of nature based solutions for designing and retrofitting in the built environment, and to facilitate knowledge transfer between disciplines and for design optimisation. Based on a review of the literature across disciplines, key characteristics could be organised into four groups: policy and community initiatives, multiple benefits assessment, topology, and design options. Challenges and opportunities for developing a characterisation framework to improve the use of nature based solutions in the built environment are discussed.C2017 by the authors.

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