The green wedges of Stockholm - past, present and future : Development over time, changes in distribution and inclusion in urban planning

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi

Abstract: With an increasing urban population, urban areas around the world face great challenges in sustaining its inhabitants without losing its natural values. Fragmentation of the urban green areas is inevitable, causing the biodiversity to decline and the ecosystem services to weaken. In Stockholm, ten large green areas stretch from the inner parts of the city outwards to the more rural parts of the county -these are called the green wedges of Stockholm. The green wedges bring nature closer to the urban dwellers and strengthen the urban ecosystems, which provides the citizens with vital ecosystem services. The population of Stockholm is growing rapidly and is expected to increase with almost 50% by 2050, putting a massive pressure on the development of new dwellings. Suitable and vacant areas for exploitation are rare and so the green areas around and within the city are often encroached or destroyed. The green wedge area is decreasing due to exploitation and there is no real means of protection for a majority of the wedges. The comprehensive plans [översiktsplaner] and regional plans [regional planer] are not legally binding, hence the continuous infringing of the green wedge area. The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive picture of the green wedges of Stockholm, its past, present and future challenges as well as possible solutions. By using methods such as GIS analysis, a decrease of green wedge area in the new regional development plan RUFS 2050 compared to the old regional development plan RUFS 2010 was found. The green wedges are diminishing and only a small part, 24 %, is protected. New ways of protecting the green wedge area could be relevant to enable a suitable inclusion within urban planning. A sustainable urban region with a healthy and sound population is dependent on green areas close to residential areas. When encroaching parts of the green wedges it will have an impact on the green infrastructure within the whole of Stockholm County, which, inevitably, will affect the urban ecosystems that provide essential ecosystem services to the city dwellers. There is a need for a clear political vision, proper legally binding guidelines as well as improved and extensive inter-municipal collaborations to make the future of the green wedges prosperous.

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