Green infrastructure and ecosystem services – is the devil in the detail? (Viewpoint)

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Urban green infrastructure provides a range of ecosystem services to human society. But how much does plant choice matter in the delivery of these services? Paradoxically, much of the literature on green infrastructure rarely mentions the importance of plant selection in urban development planning schemes.

‘Mobile’ green façade system used to alter temperature on the southern wall (northern hemisphere) of a single-storey building (diagram shows wall and façade from above).
‘Mobile’ green façade system used to alter temperature on the southern wall (northern hemisphere) of a single-storey building (diagram shows wall and façade from above). Full details in Cameron and Blanusa (2016).

Cameron and Blanusa discuss how selection according to plant genotypes makes a significant difference to how well a specific ecosystem service is delivered. They cite examples to illustrate how plant choice strongly influences services linked to city cooling, flood mitigation, air quality, urban biodiversity and even human well-being within the urban environment. This research on the selection and development of functional landscape plants is in its infancy and provides significant opportunities for further investigations in this potentially high-impact area of plant science.

Reference

Cameron, R. W. F., & Blanuša, T. (2016). Green infrastructure and ecosystem services – is the devil in the detail? Annals of Botany, 118(3), 377–391. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw129


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