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  • Jonathan Rhodes

New Paper: Social Factors and Urban Ecosystem Services

Wilkerson, M. L., M. G. E. Mitchell, D. Shanahan, K. A. Wilson, C. D. Ives, C. E. Lovelock, and J. R. Rhodes. 2018. The role of socio-economic factors in planning and managing urban ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services 31:102-110.

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How green spaces in cities benefit urban residents depends critically on the interaction between biophysical and socio-economic factors. Urban ecosystem services are affected by both ecosystem characteristics and the social and economic attributes of city dwellers. Yet, there remains little synthesis of the interactions between ecosystem services, urban green spaces, and socio-economic factors. Articulating these linkages is key to their incorporation into ecosystem service planning and management in cities and to ensuring equitable outcomes for city inhabitants. We present a conceptual model of these linkages, describe three major interaction pathways, and explore how to operationalize the model. First, socio-economic factors shape the quantity and quality of green spaces and their ability to supply services by influencing management and planning decisions. Second, variation in socio-economic factors across a city alters people’s desires and needs and thus demands for different ecosystem services. Third, socio-economic factors alter the type and amount of benefit for human wellbeing that a service provides. Integrating these concepts into green space policy, planning, and management would be a considerable improvement on ‘standards-based’ urban green space planning. We highlight the implications of this for facilitating tailored planning solutions to improve ecosystem service benefits across the socio-economic spectrum in cities.

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