Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ECO.G.U.S. (ECOsystem services for resilient and sustainable cities: an ecohydrological approach for Green Urban Spaces)
Reporting period: 2017-11-15 to 2018-11-14
These challenges are generated by a world that is constantly changing both in environmental (i.e. climate local and global changes and interrelated processes), economic (i.e. market globalization, financial shocks, etc...) and social sense (i.e. urbanization, cities and mega-cities growth, country depopulation, etc...).
As a consequence, the governance and the political decisions have to take into account the changing conditions: the necessity of tools able to predict (if possible) the future implication of present choices is nowadays greatly increasing.
As the world’s cities are becoming increasingly overcrowded and polluted, the expansion of land covered by impervious surfaces combined with climate change lead to new challenges for the relationship between people and urban ecosystems. Among the several components of the urban ecotone, green spaces play a significant role providing different ecosystem services. The development of models that embody the impact of human actions on water, energy, carbon and nutrient cycles that characterize the city context is crucial to the determination and quantification of ecosystem services in current and future scenarios. A multidisciplinary approach is thus required to address the problem of making modern cities more livable and resilient.
The work carried out during the second part of the Action, has been devoted in particular: (1) to develop and validate a mathematical model under the framework of the dynamical system theory; (2) to match the ideas and the methodologies provided by Systemic Design theory with the quantification of Ecosystem Services provided by Green Urban Spaces; (3) to the implementation of a new scoring matrix method able to perform a easy-to-use analysis of Water Ecosystem Services provided by Green Urban Spaces and based on real data.
The efforts performed to include all the previous results under the framework of Benefit-relevant indicators (BRIs) analysis can be indicate as the Action conclusion. The BRI is a recently developed concept that “explicitly reflects an ecosystem’s capacity to provide benefits to society, ensuring that ecosystem services assessments measure outcomes that are demonstrably and directly relevant to human welfare” (Olander et al., 2018).
In the first case the development of the mathematical model is based on the assumptions proper of the dynamical system theory in connection with the ecohydrological model developed in the Outgoing phase and the theory of optimal stochastic control. The stylized mathematical model is able to capture the key links among the urban green spaces, their provision of ecosystem services and the population that benefits from them. The model variables are the percentage of green urban space able to furnish a certain ecosystem service, the quality of such ecosystem service, and the population that benefits the ecosystem services provided by green urban space. These variables are dynamically related by a set of nonlinear evolution equations that allow us to explore different forms of interactions and feedbacks. The model outcomes have been compared with real situations obtained through a synthesis of extensive data (collected during the Outgoing phase) from cities around the world. The influence of the various parameters and the possibility of shifts of stable solutions to periodic behaviour have been explored along with the role of exogenous inputs (new area acquisition or population immigration) resulting from different political and governance choices.
In the second case the project proposes a new matrix scoring method for the evaluation of Water-based Ecosystem Services related to anthropic direct drivers. The method takes advantages of the outcomes of the ecohydrological model proposed during the Outgoing Phase of the project and the mathematical model proposed at the start of the Return Phase. The related guidelines also include the results of the wide data collection performed during the whole project as well as the new ideas acquired during a deep discussion with experts in Systemic Design approach. Although very simple and certainly suitable for improvement, the method represents a very easy-to-use methodology. The approach lets to include currently available data and without the use of experts’ judgments it assures a very high grade of objectivity.
The results dissemination and exploitation during the whole project have been: production of scientific papers and book chapters, participation to academic courses, seminars and conferences, development of the website of the project, invited speaker in several seminars and conferences, agreements to collaborate with several research centers
Potential users of the project results can be identified in academics, researchers, public and private institutions, policy makers, experts and practitioners related to GUS management with particular reference to the water management.