The benefits of urban green and blue infrastructure (UGI) are widely discussed, but rarely take into account local conditions or contexts. Although assessments increasingly consider the demand for the ecosystem services that UGI provides, they tend to only map the spatial pattern of pressures such as heat, or air pollution, and lack a wider understanding of where the beneficiaries are located and who will benefit most. We assess UGI in five cities from four continents with contrasting climate, socio-political context, and size. For three example services (air pollution removal, heat mitigation, accessible greenspace), we run an assessment that takes into account spatial patterns in the socio-economic demand for ecosystem services and develops metrics that reflect local context, drawing on the principles of vulnerability assessment. Despite similar overall levels of UGI (from 35 to 50% of urban footprint), the amount of service provided differs substantially between cities. Aggregate cooling ranged from 0.44 °C (Leicester) to 0.98 °C (Medellin), while pollution removal ranged from 488 kg PM2.5/yr (Zomba) to 48,400 kg PM2.5/yr (Dhaka). Percentage population with access to nearby greenspace ranged from 82% (Dhaka) to 100% (Zomba). The spatial patterns of pressure, of ecosystem service, and of maximum benefit within a city do not necessarily match, and this has implications for planning optimum locations for UGI in cities.
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