UBC Undergraduate Research

Assessment of benefits of urban forests under the Ecosystem Services Framework : a literature review Wang, Li


It is reported that approximately 53.4% of world population live in the urban areas and urban population is still increasing at an annual rate of 0.5%. However, urban areas are now facing two main challenges: one is the decreasing of air quality, and another is unpredictable global climate change. In order to overcome challenges, people have been increasingly concerned about finding more integrated methods to manage urban areas. As a result, urban forestry has experienced a rapid development within last two decades especially in North America and Europe. Many studies have shown urban forests can provide the urban community with a range of ecosystem services such as air filtration, heat relief, aesthetic values, and food production. Ecosystem services refers to the benefits that human directly or indirectly derive from the urban ecosystem. The main objectives of this paper are to review and characterize the effects and values of urban forests using framework of ecosystem services and explore the current statue of Ecosystem Services studies in urban areas. It presents a literature review of related and accessible scientific publications and four case studies, with a focus on the studies in North America and Europe. With applications of GIS and i-tree, ecosystem services especially environmental services such as wildlife habitats, air pollution reduction are easily and well assessed. However, economic services like food production and social services like urban forests potential role in policy-making process are rarely assessed. Finally, recommendations will be given towards community involvements in the future studies of urban forestry and the critical role of urban policy makers in creating a nicer urban living environment.

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