Life is often greener on the other side of the fence
If you live in a city and have easy access to green areas and ecosystem services you should count yourself lucky and privileged. Cities today host more than half of the world’s human population and this figure is set to increase if current rural-urban migration trends remain. Making sure that all these people have access to public services including ecosystem services (ES) remains a challenge, and one the that goes well beyond whether or not there are green spaces in the city or not.
A new article lead-authored by ENABLE project coordinator Erik Andersson and published in the Journal of BioScience offers a novel way to understand how and why ES benefits are unequally distributed across cities and their inhabitants. Andersson collaborated with researchers from multiple cities and institutions for this study, which is part of ENABLE. Under ENABLE, researchers are working across six cities in Europe and North America to leverage the “potential of green and blue infrastructure (GBI) interventions” while taking in the perceptions of city dwellers in a more socially and environmentally inclusive way.
Green and blue infrastructures refer to spaces such as gardens, woodlands, ponds, water courses in cities that are otherwise dominated by grey infrastructure i.e. concrete buildings and roads. These green spaces provide vital ecosystem services to city residents, such as temperature regulation and pollution control, while also creating spaces for recreation and social activity. Not all city residents, however, can easily access these spaces or the ES they offer. In fact, recognising green, blue and grey infrastructures as interconnected social-ecological entities can help make sure that different groups and different interests have equitable access to ES benefits, and infrastructure design can either help or hinder the flow of benefits.
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