Ecosystem Services and Green Infrastructure in Cities

Urban Climate Change

Understanding the risks and impacts of anthropogenic climate change remains one of the most societally important and pressing challenges (National Academies, 2018). Whilst heat-waves (periods of prolonged high temperatures) and heat stress have played a role on population dynamics for centuries (Carleton et al., 2017), several recent studies have shown that climate change will further expose an increasing number of people to extreme heat (Hondula, Balling, Vanos & Georgescu, 2015). With current process of climate change, Europe is relied upon to face real difficulties so as to adapt and mitigate the consequences of severe weather conditions.

A rise in temperature will cause discomfort, migration, financial loss and increased mortality rates on a world level. Additionally, there are foreseen will increases in extreme weather events like heat and cold waves, floods, droughts, wildfires and windstorms.

Several parts of Europe foreseen to be exposed to multiple climate hazards as shown in Figure 1 (Emilsson & Ode Sang, 2017). Next to an ever-changing climate in Europe and globally, there is continuous urbanization process.

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In 2007, half the world’s population lived in urban areas, and it’s foreseen that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population can live in urban areas (UN 2014). The urban weather frequently differs from the encompassing rural countryside as it’s far commonly more polluted, hotter, rainier and much less windy. This shows that the impact of climate change with the predicted growth in temperature and greater extreme climate occasions might be experienced to an extra volume in urban regions compared to the encompassing landscape.

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(Emilsson & Ode Sang, 2017).

Effect on Urban Temperature

Urban heat islands are a result of the bodily residences of buildings and other systems, and the emission of heat by way of human sports. They are most pronounced on clear, calm nights their electricity depends additionally at the historical past geography and climate, and there are frequently cool islands in parks and less‐developed areas (Parker, 2009). There is understanding that the present ever-changing atmosphere should be unbroken well below a standard worldwide increment of 2 °C (EC 2007 UNFCCC 2015) to take care of a strategic distance from important future atmosphere driven disasters (Lenton et al. 2008). The urban temperature is subject to worldwide improvement (the increasingly inexperienced house is being utilized for structure development) however is by and enormous deeply wedged by the urban heat island (UHI) impact that is viewed as a motivating issue of urbanization (Emilsson & Ode Sang, 2017).

There are three parameters of urbanization that have direct relating UHI, (1) increasing amount of dark surfaces such as asphalt and roofing material with low albedo and high admittance, (2) decreasing vegetation surfaces and open porous surfaces, for instance, rock or soil that increase concealing and evapotranspiration and (3) arrival of heat created through human movement, for instance, vehicles, cool, then forth (Emilsson & Ode Sang, 2017). These variables aren’t equally sent over the town, and later on, bound zones can encounter the UHI to a better degree. The impact can, as an example, be higher for territories with a high level of developed land and lowest inexperienced house than for abundant rural areas and later on can influence the world multifariously within an urban zone.

Effect on Urban Hydrology

The frequency of flood peaks is predicted to extend with dynamic the weather. Estimations purpose within the direction of a mean doubling of excessive flood peaks with a return length of hundred years among Europe by means of 2045 (Emilsson & Ode Sang, 2017). Similarly, this is often matched by means of an increase in ocean degree that, conjointly with a foretold boom in storm frequency, can result in a boom in coastal flooding. The presence of big impermeable surfaces alters the dynamics of infiltration and outcomes different impacts aboard waft behavior at variety of scales. Small-scale improvement, like the waterproofing of non-public gardens to create means for driveways, reduces leaky spacing for water to percolate. That’s an increasing exercise in evolved nations, whereby additional vehicle safety and attenuated protection necessities of field environments are seen as handiest by means that of the many owners. Considering a most of the urban areas among Europe are settled either on floodplains or aboard the coast, they enjoy coastal flooding and interior flooding that have a chief impact throughout European cities. Weather-pushed increasing ocean degrees in positive regions of Europe also will translate into additional frequent basement flooding (Emilsson & Ode Sang, 2017).

Effect on Urban Habitats and Biodiversity

Several factors of importance to environment quality and development of urban diversity are influenced by global climate change. Numerous preservation approaches tend to emphasis on relict habitats and native species in urban settings, a paradigm shift towards considering the whole range of urban ecosystems (Kowarik, 2011). The amendment in temperatures, rainfall, extreme events and increased CO2 concentrations can influence a variety of things associated with single species (e.g. physiology), population dynamics, species distribution patterns, species interactions and system services, as a result of spacial or temporal reorganization (Emilsson & Ode Sang, 2017). Increasing urban temperatures and altered precipitation dynamics can influence species community development by limiting water handiness throughout the season in addition as dynamical the nutrient dynamics. With an amendment within the urban climate, there’s probably to be an amendment in invasiveness of alien species in addition as a rise within the unfold of unwellness and pests.


Ecology contains a key role in our understanding of the advantages that humans get from ecosystems (Carpenter & Folke, 2006). Ecology may also contribute to developing environmentally sound technologies, markets for system services and approaches to higher cognitive process that account for the dynamic relationship between humans and ecosystems (Carpenter & Folke, 2006). Ecology is that the center piece of the Millennium system assessment, that focuses on system services.

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services (ESs) are the backbone upon which humans and their activities depend. In April of 2012, when asked what the largest multinational of Europe is, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (Member of European Parliament, Netherlands) stated that “there is no other that produces so much food, provides us with so many services and products and offers so many jobs… it’s nature” ”(Biodiversity Information System for Europe, 2015).  Linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being source:Millennium ecosystem assessment ESs comprise the contributions from nature to human well-being, whether directly or indirectly. In 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), called for by the United Nations (UN) to examine these services at a global level, culminated in a report which illustrated a number of the many types of services and their contributions to human well-being.

The framework in Figure 2 below, drawn directly from the report, highlights the numerous connections and complex relationships between nature, services, and well-being. Generally speaking, researchers and policy-makers have divided ESs into four major groups: supporting, cultural, provisioning, and regulating services, as illustrated below. Without supporting, services, such as primary production, clean air, or clean water, the other three services (i.e. cultural, provisioning, and regulating) could not be sustained. The MA also concluded that in the last 50 years, humans and their activities have severely degraded ecosystems and the services they provide (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). Their findings spurred a renewed interest in and appreciation for ESs, and in turn a new wave of research and studies surrounding them.

Provisioning Ecosystem Services

As ecosystem services can be defined as the benefits that human beings can obtain from an ecosystem, provisioning services as part of it can be defined as all products that can be directly obtained from the ecosystem. Provisioning services include food, fibre, wood/timber, fuel/energy, fresh water, genetic resources, natural medicine, etc. (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). Provisioning services are closely related to Water Resource Management. Allocation of water and water quality management for the purpose of Provisioning Services by Water Boards would help in ensuring the optimization of Provisioning Services’ potential. Vice versa, optimization of Provisioning Services will contribute to preventing climate change and improving the quantity and quality of water cycle which will be a benefit for Water Resource Management.

Regulating Ecosystem Services

From an inclusive perspective, the regulating ecosystem services comprise of all the processes that people and biodiversity may benefit from, by the actions of the natural systems in the environment. For instance, nature in the form of trees, wetlands, soil formations, etc. may act by soaking up rainwater, holding on to floodwater as it moves downstream, releasing water during drier periods thereby, maintaining river levels. In this way, the existing natural environment regulates processes such as water storage and flow. Similarly, the cooling effect of trees, their ability to absorb CO2 from the environs and store it as Carbon within them, performs regulation of gases in the atmosphere. In this way, any given ecosystem is able to act as a regulator in local microclimate and surroundings and in the grander scheme of things, they have an effect on global climate as well. Thus, services such as Climate regulation, biological regulation, Soil retention, formation and erosion control, water flow regulation, nutrient regulation are broadly some of the regulating services provided by nature. More specifically, these may be classified in terms of coastal protection, local climate and air quality regulation, Carbon sequestration and storage, biological control, moderation of extreme events, erosion prevention and maintenance of soil fertility, pollination, water treatment, habitat formation

Cultural Ecosystem Services

The MA describes cultural ecosystem services (CESs) as, “the nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences” (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). CESs differ from other services in that they require a certain degree of human involvement CESs require that humans appreciate or interact with an ecosystem. For example, a forest might be a symbol of heritage or provide aesthetic pleasure, but it relies almost entirely upon the human interpretation of the significance. The same forest will also provide climate regulation or carbon storage, but this will happen regardless of human awareness of that fact. As a result, CESs are often more difficult to study and quantify, but it is nonetheless very rewarding to do so given the implications for improving human well-being. Ecosystems can only hold spiritual or recreational value if they are preserved and in good condition, for which these services are necessary. On the other hand, CESs can play a role in preserving supporting services human appreciation for ecosystems from a CES perspective, like camping in a national park or educational field trips, often spur awareness of these ecosystems. This awareness, in turn, can lead to conservation and policy-implementation to increase and augment protections and assistance for supporting services. For purpose of this research the ecosystem services from green infrastructure was analyzed from the perspective of benefits offered that enable adaption to urban climate change. The benefits were categorized into economical, ecological and socio-cultural. The ecological and economic benefits both are derived from provisional and regulating ecosystem services and socio-cultural benefits derived from cultural ecosystem services.

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Ecosystem Services and Green Infrastructure in Cities. (2021, Feb 09). Retrieved from

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