The natural capital and ecosystem services concepts are a popular way of describing the multiple benefits we get from the natural environment. Although urban expansion/intensification impacts on natural capital and the multiple benefits available to the urban population, it is recognised that blue/green infrastructure systems (e.g. rain gardens, swales, ponds etc.) can at least reduce these impacts. While ecosystem services knowledge is already in use in urban planning, especially the multiple benefits from blue/green infrastructure systems, there is still need for natural capital assessments at the relevant scales to inform planning decisions and outcomes.
The aim of this PhD is twofold:
1. to investigate how different blue/green infrastructure investment pathways and future land use change scenarios affect the dynamic evolution of natural capital and secondly; and,
2. to compare the technical suitability location of blue/green infrastructure to where the multiple benefits from such intervention systems are needed the most (demand areas) in a locality as identified by local stakeholders.
Working with key stakeholders such as local authorities, planning agencies, developers and local communities, this research will demonstrate natural capital assessments in practice. This will be based on case studies focussing on natural capital changes associated with existing urban expansion / intensification plans and different blue/green infrastructure investment pathways. Such an assessment will also aid planners and decisions makers to understand the interdependency between the natural environment, economy and society in the planning process. When undertaken as part of wider environmental assessments, natural capital assessments could ensure that natural capital is considered alongside built, financial, social and human capital in sustainable urban development.
1. Cortinovis, C and Geneletti D, 2018 . Ecosystem services in urban plans: What is there, and what is still needed for better decisions. Land Use Policy, 298-312.
2. Lennon, M., & Scott, M. 2014. Delivering ecosystems services via spatial planning: Reviewing the possibilities and implications of a green infrastructure approach. Town Planning Review, 85(5), http://doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2014.35
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4. Arthur, S, 2020. Performance of blueÃ¢â‚¬â€œgreen treatment trains and sustainable drainage system ponds in trapping and retaining sediment, BlueÃ¢â‚¬â€œGreen Cities: Integrating urban flood risk management with green infrastructure, ICE Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1680/bgc.64195.065