The impact of projected increases in urbanization on ecosystem services

Eigenbrod, F., Bell, V.A., Davies, H.N., Heinemeyer, A., Armsworth, P.R. and Gaston, K.J. (2011) The impact of projected increases in urbanization on ecosystem services Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2754). (PMID:21389035).


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Alteration in land use is likely to be a major driver of changes in the distribution of ecosystem services before 2050. In Europe, urbanization will likely be the main cause of land use change. This increase in urbanization will result in spatial shifts in both supplies of ecosystem services and the beneficiaries of those services; the net outcome of such shifts remains to be determined. Here, we model changes in urban land cover in Britain based on large (16%) projected increases in human population by 2031, and the consequences for three different services - flood mitigation, agricultural production and carbon storage. We show that under a scenario of densification of urban areas, the combined effect of increasing population and loss of permeable surfaces is likely to result in 1.8 million people living within 1 km of rivers with at least 10% increases in projected peak flows, but that increasing suburban ‘sprawl’ will have little effect on flood mitigation services. Conversely, losses of stored carbon and agricultural production are three times as high under the ‘sprawl’ as under the ‘densification’ urban growth scenarios. Our results illustrate the challenges of meeting, but also of predicting, future demands and patterns of ecosystem services in the face of increasing urbanization.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2754
ISSNs: 1471-2954 (print)
Keywords: agricultural production, carbon storage, densification, flood risk, natural capital, urban ecology

ePrint ID: 181871
Date :
Date Event
9 March 2011Published
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2011 09:17
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 02:27
Further Information:Google Scholar

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