The Green Area Factor, Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity : An investigation of the preservation of urban biodiversity within the city of Stockholm

University essay from KTH/Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik

Abstract: Urbanization is increasing around the world and causes distress on the urban green areas as more and more people moves into cities. This leads to expansion and densification of the city and green areas within and around the cities run the risk of being exploited and fragmented. Thus, the rapid urbanisation process negatively affects biodiversity, as fragmentation of green areas occurs due to development of housing and roads. This results in habitat loss, causing decreasing species populations, and loss of connectivity for species dispersal. Urban green areas are important for maintenance of ecosystem services provided by nature. One ecosystem service which is considered a supportive ecosystem service is biodiversity. Biodiversity is therefore vital to preserve not only for the survival of nature, but for the survival of mankind. There are several, both international and national, objectives concerning the preservation of biodiversity. One of the Swedish Environmental Objectives is called “A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life” and is directly targeting the conservation of biodiversity and had its due time in 2020. The objective was deemed not fulfilled this year, and one of the reasons mentioned was the expansion of cities, as green areas risked being exploited and fragmented. The shrinkage and isolation of natural habitats increase the risk for degradation of urban biodiversity so therefore the conclusion was to consider green areas at an early stage of the physical planning process. In this context, Green Infrastructure (GI) is the coherent network of structures, nature areas and habitats that are important for the provision of ecosystem services. GI is used when working with climate adaptation, social values, and biodiversity in urban areas. The Green Area Factor (Grönytefaktor, GYF, Swedish abbreviation) used in Sweden has been adapted to fit the current values and goals of the city of Malmö in Sweden, and later on applied in three of the biggest cities of Sweden: Malmö, Gothenburg, and Stockholm. GYF used in the City of Stockholm is a planning tool adopted for development districts and is applied during land allocation within the municipality (abbreviated GYF KVM). GYF KVM is calculated by dividing the sum of the green areas with the total area of the property. This result in a factor which should be achieved when the development on the property is completed. This thesis investigates how GYF KVM is treated by developers and the city of Stockholm during development and whether GYF KVM is a good tool for preserving the biological diversity in cities. The report also investigates whether GYF KVM is a long-term solution for strengthening the GI, especially regarding biodiversity. Methods used for answering the objectives were in the form of literature research of both scientific and grey literature, and interviews with stakeholders. The stakeholders identified were the City of Stockholm, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), consultants, C/O City and developers operating within the city of Stockholm. The thesis concluded that GYF KVM is a tool that is primarily intended to implement ecosystem services and is not only intended to strengthen biodiversity. However, GYF KVM lacks strong links to GI as the area of application is limited to the district. One solution could be for the city to implement a complementary tool for the design of green areas on public land. In this way, the planning area is expanded. Another proposal that was raised was to implement a binding national GYF model that ensures that more municipalities use GYF when planning urban environments. A national GYF model would also ensure that the additional green values are followed up and maintained.

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