Adaptive governance to promote ecosystem services in urban green spaces
Green, O., S. Albro, N. Ban, A. Berland, C. Burkman, M. Gardiner, A. Garmestani, L. Gunderson, M. Hopton, M. Schoon, AND W. Shuster. Adaptive governance to promote ecosystem services in urban green spaces. Urban Ecosystems. Springer Science+Business Media B.V, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 19(1):77-93, (2016).
Urban green spaces provide vital ecosystem services at varying degrees, depending on the size, function, and management of these spaces. Governance of linked social-ecological systems to maximize those services poses unique challenges given the uncertainty of ecological responses and the social political complexity of managing ecological resources in an urban context where fiscal and human resources are strained. In North America, many cities are facing fiscal austerity because of shrinkage in manufacturing and industrial sectors and the foreclosure crisis. As municipalities are undergoing such political transformations, opportunities for “green” urban renewal abound, especially considering the abundance of vacant properties ripe for “green reuse.” To address the ecological uncertainty of restoring ecosystem services in urban environments, we propose adaptive management as a proven strategy to confront inherent uncertainty while acting and learning (i.e., monitoring and feedback). Adaptive management is insufficient as a governance strategy due to the complexities of urban environmental management, such as trade-offs between competing goals and overlapping jurisdictions. To address these complexities, we propose adaptive governance as sound environmental governance for urban green spaces.
Managing urban green space as part of an ongoing social-ecological transformationposes novel governance issues, particularly in post-industrial settings. Urban green spaces operate as small-scale nodes in larger networks of ecological reserves that provide and maintain key ecosystem services such as pollination, water retention and infiltration, and sustainable food production. In an urban mosaic, a myriad of social and ecological components factor into aggregating and managing land to maintain or increase the flow of ecosystem services associated with green spaces. Vacant lots (a form of urban green space) are being repurposed for multiple functions, such as habitat for biodiversity, including arthropods that provide pollination services to other green areas; to capture urban runoff that eases the burden on ageing wastewater systems and other civic infrastructure; and to reduce urban heat island effects.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION
SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS BRANCH