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Green infrastructure and ecosystem services - is the devil in the detail?

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Cameron, R. W. F. and Blanusa, T. (2016) Green infrastructure and ecosystem services - is the devil in the detail? Annals of Botany, 118 (3). pp. 377-391. ISSN 1095-8290

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcw129

Abstract/Summary

Background - Green infrastructure is a strategic network of green spaces designed to deliver ecosystem services to human communities. Green infrastructure is a convenient concept for urban policy makers, but the term is used too-generically and with limited understanding of the relative values or benefits of different types of green space and how these complement one another. At a finer scale/more practical level– little consideration is given to the composition of the plant-communities, yet this is what ultimately defines extent of service provision. This paper calls for greater attention to be paid to urban plantings with respect to ecosystem service delivery and for plant science to engage more-fully in identifying those plants that promote various services. Scope - Many urban plantings are designed based on aesthetics alone, with limited thought on how plant choice/composition provides other ecosystem services. Research is beginning to demonstrate, however, that landscape plants provide a range of important services, such as helping mitigate floods and alleviating heat islands, but that not all species are equally effective. The paper reviews a number of important services and demonstrates how genotype choice radically affects service delivery. Conclusions – Although research is in its infancy, data is being generated that relates plant traits to specific services; thereby helping identify genotypes that optimise service delivery. The urban environment, however, will become exceedingly bland if future planting is simply restricted to monocultures of a few ‘functional’ genotypes. Therefore, further information is required on how to design plant communities where the plants identified:- a/ provide more than a single benefit (multi-functionality) b/ complement each other in maximising the range of benefits that can be delivered in one location and c/ continue to maintain public acceptance through diversity. The identification/development of functional landscape plants is an exciting and potentially high impact arena for plant science.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Biodiversity, Crops and Agroecosystems Division > Crops Research Group
ID Code:65705
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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