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Money doesn’t grow on trees: How to increase funding for the delivery of urban forest ecosystem services?

Money doesn’t grow on trees: How to increase funding for the delivery of urban forest ecosystem services?
Money doesn’t grow on trees: How to increase funding for the delivery of urban forest ecosystem services?
Urbanisation and a changing climate are leading to more frequent and severe, and less predictable, flood, extreme heat, and air pollution episodes in cities around the world. Green infrastructure can help mitigate these urban problems by providing regulating ecosystem services such as storm water attenuation, heat amelioration, and air purification. Despite this, nature based solutions are not yet mainstream in urban planning, local government budgets for tree planting and green space maintenance have declined worldwide, and the extent to which urban forests in particular are planned and managed with ecosystem services delivery in mind has not been researched. A possible way of increasing funding for the delivery of urban ecosystem services is through a targeted beneficiary pays model, i.e. a business- or citizen-financed ‘payments for ecosystem services’ scheme. However this potential funding mechanism has not been sufficiently researched in an urban context, and it is unclear how public values and uncertainty in the delivery of ecosystem services might be accounted for. This thesis uses a mixed methods approach with different stakeholder groups to help address these research gaps and inform local and national government decision-making.

The overarching aim of the thesis is to establish whether a public-private urban forest PES scheme could be a feasible approach for addressing the constraints to delivery of ES in cities. This research is presented via three separate, but related empirical chapters, using the UK as a case study. The first uses in-depth interviews with local government tree officers from 15 cities to identify the constraints and opportunities for enhancing provision of urban forest regulating ecosystem services. The second empirical chapter uses questionnaire-based interviews with 30 businesses of varying sizes and sectors from the city of Southampton to identify their motivations for, and conditions of involvement in, an urban forest payments for ecosystem services scheme. The third empirical chapter uses a discrete choice experiment with 362 Southampton citizens to determine their willingness-to-pay for urban forest ecosystem services, and specifically, whether this is affected by the uncertainty surrounding ecosystem services provision.

The core finding of this thesis is that a public-private partnership between local governments, businesses and citizens holds strong potential for improving both appreciation of, and financial support for, urban forests. The tree officers were keen to explore a beneficiary-pays approach, whilst both businesses and citizens were in support of contributing to the urban forest, particularly for air purification. However, despite the presence of moral motivations, most businesses would prefer to contribute on a voluntary basis for marketing and corporate social responsibility purposes. Moreover, citizen willingness-to-pay is higher when they are aware of urban forest ecosystem services and the uncertainties surrounding their provision, than when these benefits are seemingly assured, but poorly understood.

This thesis is the first known study to investigate: the integration of regulating ecosystem services into urban forest planning and management (outside of North America); the attitudes of businesses towards investing in urban forest ecosystem services; and whether providing information on the uncertainty surrounding provision of these services can increase willingness to pay amongst citizens. As a result, this thesis provides original insights into the potential for a beneficiary-funded urban forest payments for ecosystem services scheme, with implications both for government policy, and on-the-ground urban forest planning, management and governance.
University of Southampton
Davies, Helen J.
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Davies, Helen J.
10803ba3-b41f-43d7-88c3-36333fb23644
Hudson, Malcolm
1ae18506-6f2a-48af-8c72-83ab28679f55
Schaafsma, Marije
937ac629-0fa2-4a11-bdf7-c3688405467d

Davies, Helen J. (2020) Money doesn’t grow on trees: How to increase funding for the delivery of urban forest ecosystem services? University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 290pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Urbanisation and a changing climate are leading to more frequent and severe, and less predictable, flood, extreme heat, and air pollution episodes in cities around the world. Green infrastructure can help mitigate these urban problems by providing regulating ecosystem services such as storm water attenuation, heat amelioration, and air purification. Despite this, nature based solutions are not yet mainstream in urban planning, local government budgets for tree planting and green space maintenance have declined worldwide, and the extent to which urban forests in particular are planned and managed with ecosystem services delivery in mind has not been researched. A possible way of increasing funding for the delivery of urban ecosystem services is through a targeted beneficiary pays model, i.e. a business- or citizen-financed ‘payments for ecosystem services’ scheme. However this potential funding mechanism has not been sufficiently researched in an urban context, and it is unclear how public values and uncertainty in the delivery of ecosystem services might be accounted for. This thesis uses a mixed methods approach with different stakeholder groups to help address these research gaps and inform local and national government decision-making.

The overarching aim of the thesis is to establish whether a public-private urban forest PES scheme could be a feasible approach for addressing the constraints to delivery of ES in cities. This research is presented via three separate, but related empirical chapters, using the UK as a case study. The first uses in-depth interviews with local government tree officers from 15 cities to identify the constraints and opportunities for enhancing provision of urban forest regulating ecosystem services. The second empirical chapter uses questionnaire-based interviews with 30 businesses of varying sizes and sectors from the city of Southampton to identify their motivations for, and conditions of involvement in, an urban forest payments for ecosystem services scheme. The third empirical chapter uses a discrete choice experiment with 362 Southampton citizens to determine their willingness-to-pay for urban forest ecosystem services, and specifically, whether this is affected by the uncertainty surrounding ecosystem services provision.

The core finding of this thesis is that a public-private partnership between local governments, businesses and citizens holds strong potential for improving both appreciation of, and financial support for, urban forests. The tree officers were keen to explore a beneficiary-pays approach, whilst both businesses and citizens were in support of contributing to the urban forest, particularly for air purification. However, despite the presence of moral motivations, most businesses would prefer to contribute on a voluntary basis for marketing and corporate social responsibility purposes. Moreover, citizen willingness-to-pay is higher when they are aware of urban forest ecosystem services and the uncertainties surrounding their provision, than when these benefits are seemingly assured, but poorly understood.

This thesis is the first known study to investigate: the integration of regulating ecosystem services into urban forest planning and management (outside of North America); the attitudes of businesses towards investing in urban forest ecosystem services; and whether providing information on the uncertainty surrounding provision of these services can increase willingness to pay amongst citizens. As a result, this thesis provides original insights into the potential for a beneficiary-funded urban forest payments for ecosystem services scheme, with implications both for government policy, and on-the-ground urban forest planning, management and governance.

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Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: How to Increase Funding for the Delivery of Urban Forest Ecosystem Services? - Version of Record
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Published date: November 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442098
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442098
PURE UUID: 219817df-67ce-4caa-af88-25244cd03d94
ORCID for Helen J. Davies: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6497-9455
ORCID for Marije Schaafsma: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0878-069X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Jul 2020 16:49
Last modified: 13 Dec 2021 05:52

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Contributors

Author: Helen J. Davies ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Malcolm Hudson
Thesis advisor: Marije Schaafsma ORCID iD

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