The right tree in the right place : using GIS to maximize the net benefits from urban forests

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi och ekosystemvetenskap

Abstract: Ecosystem services have been widely discussed as of late, and more so than ever, has the topic of resilience and sustainable city planning taken an important role in the debate over how we can meet the present challenges concerning livable cities. The costs and the benefits of urban trees is an important factor in sustainable city planning and their consideration early in the planning stages cannot be understated. This study outlines methods whereby potential costs and benefits can be identified so that the right species of tree can be selected and positioned based on the desire to minimize costs and conflicts while at the same time maximizing the ecosystem services provided by trees in the urban environment. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis GIS is a powerful tool able to carry out repeated complex analysis on large quantities of data while continually making adjustments, both large and small, in order to provide different alternatives to a complex problem. The ability to systematically asses the interactions between trees and infrastructure, while at the same time including variables not easily measured, such as aesthetic value, is what makes GIS a suitable tool for evaluating the ecosystem services provided by trees in the built-up environment. Green Area Factor (GAF) and Service Providing Units (SPUs) Within the course of this study a variety of spatial analysis tools, such as buffers, intersects and overlays, were applied to input data consisting of tree species, trees position and surface types in order to assess the interactions between trees and their surroundings with respect to potential ecosystem service provision and eventual conflicts. The results of these interactions are expressed in terms of SPUs based on GAF. GAF is a method where a surface is evaluated based on its eco-effective properties, or in other terms, its ability to minimize the negative effects of climate change, increase the social value of the space while also promoting high levels of biodiversity. Ecosystem service evaluation Using simple vector inputs, GAF values and a series of spatial analyses, the level of ecosystem services for both a large and small scale study area were analyzed using a variety tree species scenarios in order evaluate the gains and losses of SPUs and the overall ecosystem service levels achieved based on the choice and placement of trees in the urban landscape. Keywords: Physical Geography and Ecosystem analysis, GIS, Urban forest, Ecosystem service, Grönytefaktor, Green Area Factor Advisor: Dan Metcalfe Master degree project 30 credits in Geographical Information Sciences, 2016 Original title: The Right Tree in the Right Place: Using GIS to Maximize the Net Benefits from Urban Forests Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University Thesis nr 54

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