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Introduction

Special Issue on Green Infrastructure


for Urban Sustainability
Jürgen Breuste, Ph.D. be managed in a way that allows producing sustainable cities
Professor, Dept. of Geography and Geology, Paris-Lodron-Univ. Salzburg, (Alberti 2008; Endlicher 2011; Gaston 2010; Niemelä et al. 2010;
5020 Salzburg, Austria. E-mail: juergen.breuste@sbg.ac.at Richter and Weiland 2012). However, urban green mostly plays just
a minor part when talking about atmospheric processes such as ur-
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Martina Artmann, Ph.D. ban heat islands or climate change (Alberti 2008; Endlicher 2011).
The studies on urban green infrastructure also focus on human
Postdoctoral, Dept. of Geography and Geology, Paris-Lodron-Univ. perception, educational values of urban wilderness as part of urban
Salzburg, 5020 Salzburg, Austria (corresponding author). E-mail:
green or social benefits by urban gardening (Richter and Weiland
Martina.Artmann@sbg.ac.at
2012; Endlicher 2011). However, only a few papers have investi-
gated the recreational services in developing countries (Jim and
Junxiang Li, Ph.D. Chen 2006, 2009). In some regional case studies, for instance,
Professor, School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China designers have paid more attention to implementing theoretical
Normal Univ., Shanghai 200241, China. principles and government requirements in urban planning or land-
scape architecture, but lack technical support from ecological and
Miaomiao Xie, Ph.D. geographical perspectives (Li et al. 2005; Jim and Chen 2003).
Associate Professor, School of Land Science and Technology, China Univ. Therefore, it is urgently necessary to improve the research scope
of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China. and methods linking function, ecosystem services, planning, and
the design of urban green infrastructure in the pursuit of urban sus-
tainable development (Mao et al. 2012; Chang et al. 2007).
DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444.0000291

Background Scope of the Special Issue

More than 50% of the world population now lives in urban areas, The special issue (SI) “Green Infrastructure for Urban Sustainabil-
and the urban population is projected to reach 6.3 billion in 2050, ity” in the Journal of Urban Planning and Development (JUPD)
most of which will reside in less developed countries (United aims to bridge the knowledge gap between urbanization and its
Nations 2012). Urban green infrastructure as parks, forests, street quantitative and qualitative impacts on urban green; challenges
trees, green roofs, gardens, and cemeteries is especially in an urban- and opportunities for urban green infrastructure facing climate
ized world of crucial importance as it is the main carrier of ecosys- and demographic change; and to showcase best practices of plan-
tem services and improves the quality of life for urban residents. ning and managing urban green infrastructure. By systematically
For instance, it supports regulating ecosystem services by increas- integrating new findings on the function, ecosystem services, and
ing water infiltration (Haase and Nuissl 2007; Pauleit and Duhme practices of green infrastructure, the SI aims to link the patterns,
2000) and has positive impacts on the microclimate regulation (Gill functions, and management of urban green infrastructure at differ-
et al. 2007; Hamada and Ohta 2010). Furthermore, urban green ent scales. The SI contributes to conceptual and scientific method-
provides recreational facilities and offers urban residents the pos- ologies of current urban green studies and supports sustainable
sibility to get in touch with nature (Matsuoka and Kaplan 2008) and urban green planning and sustainable management in practice in an
supports the local food supply through allotment gardens (Barthel urbanizing and environment changing background by involving
et al. 2013). international case studies. The SI addresses international research
Green infrastructure as a concept has been developed within the communities, urban ecologists and planners, landscape architects,
last two decades. It commonly refers to the connective matrices of biologists, modelers, governance researchers, sociologists as well
green spaces that can be found in and around urban and urban- as planning practitioners and policy makers dealing with urban and
fringe landscapes (Mell 2008) or is simply defined as urban and landscape ecology.
periurban green space systems (Tzoulas et al. 2007). Due to its To further develop the discussion on the green infrastructure and
provision of numerous complementary ecological, economic, and show how this can be an important tool for urban planning and
social benefits, green infrastructure not only enables planners to urban development considering international case studies, this SI
develop multifunctional, innovative, and sustainable places (Mell relates to following main aspects of urban green infrastructure:
2008), but also promotes ecosystem and human health and well- 1. People’s perception and use of urban green infrastructure;
being (Tzoulas et al. 2007) and provides abiotic, biotic, and cul- 2. Methods to analyze and evaluate urban green infrastructure;
tural functions to advance and contribute to urban sustainability 3. Functions and ecosystem services of urban green infrastruc-
(Ahern 2007). ture; and
Urban green infrastructure is closely related to human well- 4. Management of urban green infrastructure and urban soil
being and biodiversity in urban areas (Gaston 2010; Richter and sealing.
Weiland 2012) and plays an important part in urban ecology. These research fields are mirrored by 14 papers presented in this
In recent years, in some published books on urban ecology, urban SI and were extensively discussed at the first World Congress of
green was factored into investigations regarding how cities and the Society for Urban Ecology (SURE), which took place from
their sociocultural, economic, and environmental systems can July 25–27, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. The Congress was organized

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J. Urban Plann. Dev., 2015, 141(3): A2015001


by the Landscape Ecology working group of Humboldt-University provided by allotments, urban planners and city management should
Berlin hosting 210 participants from 30 countries. This SI is be aware of the value of allotment gardens in the urban planning.
the output of the SURE congress symposium “Urban Green and
Urban Development—Multifunctional Urban Green Infrastructure:
Theory and Practice” organized by the symposium chairs Jürgen Part 2: Methods to Analyze and Evaluate Urban Green
Breuste, Martina Artmann, and Junxiang Li. Within this sympo- Infrastructure
sium, 21 talks and 18 posters were presented proving the high Many previous studies have demonstrated that urbanization affects
research relevance of the topics presented in this SI. not only the spatial pattern of urban green infrastructure (Zhou et al.
2011, 2014) but also the urban landscape itself (Li et al. 2013;
Wu et al. 2011), which, in turn, influences its ecosystem services
Structure and Contents of the Special Issue such as mitigating urban heat island (Kong et al. 2014; Li et al.
2011). To analyze and evaluate urban green infrastructure, its spa-
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The 14 papers presented in this special issue relate to four topics


within the field of urban green infrastructure. The SI consists of tial patterns and influence on urban sustainability we need appro-
technical papers as well as case study cities. The papers deal with priate approaches.
a variety of conceptual and theoretical backgrounds as well as ap- To better understand the contributions of green infrastructure
plied methodological approaches focusing on regional to site scales to urban sustainable development, this SI selected two papers
of case studies placed in Argentina, Austria, China, Germany, investigating the spatial pattern of green infrastructure in urban
Poland, South Africa, and the U.S. area. One focuses on the identification of green infrastructure and
the configuration of diversity in Lodz, Poland (Dlugonski and
Szumanski 2015) by extracting structural elements of green infra-
Part 1: People’s Perception and Use of Urban Green structure and their functional diversity associated with different
Infrastructure urban zones in the city. The paper presents a reliable way to identify
Urbanization can be considered the most drastic form of land trans- spatial structure of urban green infrastructure for spatial planning,
formation, reducing the ecosystem’s capacity for providing ecosys- particularly in the processes of modeling and decision-making.
tem services and biodiversity (Wu 2010). In particular, the loss of The other paper deals with how urban land use influences the dis-
urban green infrastructure due to urbanization processes threatens tribution of green space in Shanghai, China (Li et al. 2014). In this
the physical and psychological well-being of urban residents, for paper, the authors examined the linkage of urban green space dis-
instance, due to intensification of heat stress (Lafortezza et al. tribution to anthropogenic activities at very fine scales. Through
2009), noise pollution (Gidlöf-Gunnarsson and Öhrström 2007), investigating the compositional and configurational variations of
and loss of spaces promoting public mental health (Grahn and green space among five dominant land use types, namely, new res-
Stigsdotter 2010). People’s perception and use of urban green infra- idential, old residential, villa residential, industrial, and institutional
structure is the fundamental condition to bridge the knowledge gap within the central area of Shanghai, the authors revealed that
between urbanization and its impacts on urban green infrastructure green space coverage and configuration varied with land-use types
and its related urban quality of life. at the city level, while the variation was consistent with the spatial
There are two studies in this SI with questionnaires about peo- changes of human activities. Their results highlight the anthropo-
ple’s perception and use of urban green infrastructure (Johnson et al. genic impacts on green space planning and management.
2014; Breuste and Artmann 2014). Johnson et al. (2014) explored The urban park is an essential component of urban green infra-
how residents living along streams of the Matanza-Riachuelo structure and serves the mitigation of the urban heat island (UHI)
watershed (Argentina) perceived their present condition and envis- effect. However, how park size and surrounding landscape pattern
aged the potential improvement. Their findings showed that resi- influence its cooling effect remains unclear. Cheng et al. (2014),
dents’ perceptions were generally determined by what they saw or using 39 parks in Shanghai, China, revealed a nonlinear relation-
smelled. At the same time, locations of their dwellings in the basin, ship between park size and its cooling effect. The parks’ land sur-
distances from the watercourse, and also gender were key impact face temperature (LST) decreased logarithmically with park size,
factors. A surprising finding was the perceived connection between the cooling efficiency of large parks is not higher than that of
environmental degradation and certain social issues, e.g., danger the small ones, and both the class and landscape level patterns sur-
linked to social vulnerability. Most of the interviewees did not rounding the parks influence the cooling effect. Their findings are
use these areas for recreation, but they have the desire to improve valuable for landscape and urban planning.
the recreational function of the streams. The local governments Another paper selected for this SI, although not directly pertain-
should take the difference in opinions and attitudes into account ing to urban green infrastructure, analyzes the impacts of urban
to guarantee conservation and an increase of ecosystem services form on surface urban heat island (SUHI) (Schwarz and Manceur
through urban planning. 2015). In this paper, the authors selected 274 large urban zones in
In contrast to the results above, surveys of allotments in Europe to explore how urban form, i.e., composition and spatial
Salzburg, Austria, showed some important services of recreation configuration of cities, influences urban SUHI. They found that
and nature experience provided by allotments as one important the urban forms affect SUHI depending upon the ways of quantify-
part of urban green (Breuste and Artmann 2014). In four allotment ing SUHI. Increasing the share of build-up and forest both increase
associations, 156 allotment gardeners were interviewed to examine the SUHI. Therefore, spatial planning aiming to mitigate SUHI
how urban allotment gardens contribute to ecosystem services. should consider the landscape element, which can actually increase
The survey showed a very intensive use of the allotment gardens mean temperatures.
by frequency and duration of stay. Besides recreation and rest, the
main reasons for the use of allotments were the connectedness to
Part 3: Functions and Ecosystem Services of Urban
nature and escaping stressful urban life, whereas another main rea-
Green Infrastructure
son for visiting the allotment is gardening. With the increasing
importance in recreation and nature experience, traditional food Ecosystem services describe how humans benefit from ecosystem
production was declining. As for a range of ecosystem services functions and processes. The benefit can be economic or related to

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J. Urban Plann. Dev., 2015, 141(3): A2015001


living quality (e.g., Breuste et al. 2013a; Costanza et al. 1997). With biodiversity. Distribution and abundance of four common songbird
the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA species in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., in different land use types
2005), the discussion on ecosystem services was further extended indicates this impressively. Abundance modeling was used to de-
to urban ecosystems. Urban residents benefit at a local scale termine which land cover types best predicted the abundance values
(Breuste et al. 2013b, c; McDonald 2009), e.g., from water and of each species. It showed that small public parks and vacant land
climate regulation, biodiversity, food provision, and aesthetic and are preferred by distinct species and are both important for urban
recreational services. The beneficiaries of ecosystem services can biodiversity.
be single persons, groups, or the society as a whole. All kinds of
urban green areas can comprise a green infrastructure contributing
to ecosystem services (Elmqvist et al. 2013; Ergen 2014; Gómez Part 4: Management of Urban Green Infrastructure and
et al. 2004, 2011; Naumann et al. 2011; Niemelä et al. 2010; Urban Soil Sealing
Tzoulas et al. 2007). People can benefit in many ways from more Ongoing worldwide urbanization is connected with the loss and
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urban nature of different types integrated into a targeted developed degradation of urban and periurban green. These trends put pres-
urban green infrastructure. Following the classification of ecosys- sure on ecosystems and the quality of life for urban residents.
tem services by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA 2005) Therefore, a comprehensive management of urban green infrastruc-
and Costanza et al. (1997) provisioning services (e.g., habitat ser- ture under the umbrella of human-social systems is crucial when
vice: Mathey et al. 2015; Rega et al. 2015), regulating services aiming for sustainable development (Elmqvist et al. 2013; Pickett
(e.g., climatic regulation: Mathey et al. 2015; Henseke and Breuste et al. 2011; Tzoulas et al. 2007; Young 2009). In this regard,
2014; Xie et al. 2014), and cultural services (e.g., recreation: the concept of green infrastructure can be regarded as a natural
Mathey et al. 2015) were investigated in this SI. life-support system targeting to sustain ecosystem functions within
Sustainable urban development faces a series of challenges re- a network of natural and open spaces (Benedict and McMahon
lated to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change, which are 2006, p. 2). Despite the mostly well-investigated positive impacts
the subject of the papers of Henseke and Breuste as well as of Xie provided by urban green infrastructure (see also “Part 3” of this SI),
et al. The latter analyzed the dynamics of urban green connectivity its protection and integrative management in urban planning is still
in a case study of Shenzhen, China, from 1986 to 2010 and exam- challenging. Conflicts between different urban land uses (e.g., be-
ined temperature regulation. The results demonstrate the depend- tween residential or commercial areas developed on urban forests
ency of temperature regulation potential by that pattern of urban or recreational areas) and related land covers shape the degree of
green infrastructure and its changes. It shows that perforation impervious surfaces (Artmann 2014b), a key factor in the reduction
of urban built-up patterns keep thermal environments stable and of urban ecosystem services (Larondelle et al. 2014). Human ac-
comfortable for people. This is a useful contribution to urban de- tivities are the main factor in providing, shaping and efficiently de-
velopment by planning green infrastructure development by green signing urban green infrastructure, and there is a call for the active
corridors and embedding densely built-up areas within surrounding management, restoration, and protection of manmade and natural
larger green areas. urban green infrastructure according to the needs of people and
The number of people who will be affected by increasing tem- nature (Benedict and McMahon 2006). To achieve such a compre-
peratures will rise, especially those in the heat sensitive group of hensive planning, it is argued that a range of interdisciplinary actors
elderly people. Henseke and Breuste investigated climate change from all sides must be addressed for an active management of urban
sensitivity in residential areas and their adaption capacities in a case green, such as land use, green, and landscape planning (Andersson
study in Linz, Austria. To limit negative effects of climate change and Bodin 2008; United Nations Human Settlements Programme
on urban residents, urban green infrastructure can play an important 2009) as well as urban residents, communities, and practitioners
role. Those urban patterns, which are densely built-up and inhab- such as landscape designers (Artmann 2014a; Ernstson et al. 2008).
ited by sensitive residents, should be identified and managed for The role of landscape designers in promoting a balanced ap-
climate adaptation first. The potential to develop the green infra- proach of green infrastructure is also the focus of the paper by
structure there was identified and climate adaptive strategies based Breed et al. (2014). The authors argue that there is the need to
on people’s perception were developed. The results show an infor- operationalize social norms and values to improve the conditions
mation deficit on local effects of climate change on people as well of green infrastructure in South Africa and that landscape designers
as a good knowledge of global effects and still unused opportunities need to take responsibility to articulate such values. By reviewing
by local planning bodies. design projects featured in three prominent profession-focused
Brownfields can be valuable elements of urban green infrastruc- magazines in the nine years following 2004, the authors found that
ture by their ecosystem services, showed by Mathey et al. In shrink- design practitioners value cultural and regulating services as being
ing cities, reintegrating brownfield into the urban pattern is an more important than provisioning or supporting services. This val-
important subject. A paper based on European experiences demon- uation was driven by environmental law, ratings systems, and
strated the high ecosystem service potential for habitat services pre- award systems. To reorient values and promote a well-balanced in-
venting a loss of biodiversity, for microclimate regulation, adapting clusion of ecosystem services in green infrastructure the authors
to climate change and for recreation fostering healthy urban envi- suggest using award systems for achieving value changes. In this
ronments. Various types of brownfields were investigated based regard, landscape designers can play an active role in changing the
on a literature review. Scenario models and people’s perceptions quality of green infrastructure to provide multiple ecosystem serv-
to these areas are an important subject for successful integration ices and to (re)connect local users to their dependence on nature.
of brownfields into urban green infrastructure. The fact that urban residents also play a vital role in manag-
Small urban green spaces, such as neighborhood parks and pri- ing urban soil sealing and urban green is shown in the paper by
vate gardens, have often been underestimated in the ecosystem Artmann and Breuste (2014). They argue that urban residents im-
services they can provide. The focus of the majority of studies pact urban green and grey by their choice on how and where to live
is on public land, but about two-thirds of urban green infrastructure within a city as well as by reducing sealing at the building or green-
in most cities is private. Rega et al. showed the high potential of ing buildings. By conducting an online survey in two cities in
small and often private green in cities as habitats and for urban Germany, the authors showed that information plays a vital role for

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J. Urban Plann. Dev., 2015, 141(3): A2015001


residents to reduce soil sealing at the site and promote compact Artmann, M. (2014b). “Institutional efficiency of urban soil sealing
cities. The authors further conclude that urban decision takers also management—From raising awareness to better implementation of
must take responsibility in achieving compact cities by securing a sustainable development in Germany.” Landscape Urban Plann.,
sufficient supply of a high living quality even in the highly sealed 131, 83–95.
centers including appropriate recreational areas and reduction in Artmann, M., and Breuste, J. (2014). “Cities built for and by residents: Soil
motorized traffic. To guarantee a high acceptance of residents to- Sealing management in the eyes of urban dwellers in Germany.” J. Ur-
ban Plann. Dev., 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444.0000252, A5014004.
ward compact cities, the study suggests applying a sealing gradient
Barthel, S., Parker, J., and Ernstson, H. (2013). “Food and green space
taking into account the importance and satisfaction of built-up envi-
in cities: A resilience lens on gardens and urban environmental move-
ronment qualities based on the concept of ecosystem services. ments.” Urban Stud., 1–18.
Presenting a case study in China, Chang et al. (2014) developed Benedict, M. A., and McMahon, E. T. (2006). Green infrastructure Linking
a working framework aiming to support urban practitioners by landscapes and communities, Island Press, Washington, DC.
planning and managing urban green infrastructure under the um- Breed, C., Cilliers, S., and Fisher, R. (2014). “Role of landscape designers
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brella of urban sustainability. The authors integrated morphological in promoting a balanced approach to green infrastructure.” J. Urban
spatial pattern analysis into landscape ecological planning princi- Plann. Dev., 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444.0000248, A5014003.
ples using geographic information systems. By doing so, they iden- Breuste, J., and Artmann, M. (2014). “Allotment gardens contribute to ur-
tified which green patches should be brought into the network ban ecosystem service: Case study Salzburg, Austria.” J. Urban Plann.
system as well as their functional roles within the network. Results Dev., 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444.0000264, A5014005.
showed that conservation boundaries, preservation nodes and retro- Breuste, J., Haase, D., and Elmqvist, T. (2013a). “Urban landscapes and
fitted greenways should be focus areas in urban green infrastructure ecosystem services.” Ecosystem services in agricultural and urban
management. The authors conclude that applying the developed landscapes, S. Wratten, H. Sandhu, R. Cullen, and R. Costanza, eds.,
framework in practice can support the spatial navigation of urban Wiley, Oxford, 83–104.
green-space system planning and urban sustainability in China. Breuste, J., Qureshi, S., and Li, J. (2013b). “Scaling down the ecosystem
Guo et al. (2015) also conducted a case study in China, exam- services at local level for urban parks of three megacities.” Hercynia,
ining the near-natural silvicultural approach and its role in a sus- 46, 1–20.
Breuste, J., Schnellinger, J., Qureshi, S., and Faggi, A. (2013c). “Urban
tainable future for urban renaturalization. The authors examined the
ecosystem services on the local level: Urban green spaces as providers.”
10-year dynamics of a near-natural forest in the Pudong New Area
Ekologia (Bratislava), 32(3), 290–304.
of Shanghai, China and compared eco-benefits with natural forests Chang, Q., Li, S., Li, H., Peng, J., and Wang, Y. L. (2007). “Research
and artificial urban forests. Results showed that the site that had progress on urban green space.” Chin. J. Appl. Ecol., 15(3), 527–531.
been revegetated using a near-natural silvicultural approach formed Chang, Q., Liu, X., Wu, J., and He, P. (2014). “MSPA-based urban green
a stable forest with a more complex structure and beautiful land- infrastructure planning and management approach for urban sustain-
scape after 10 years, with eco-benefits similar to natural forests and ability: Case study of Longgang in China.” J. Urban Plann. Dev.,
more economical than artificial forests. The authors conclude that 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444.0000247, A5014006.
using a near-natural method to construct an urban green living Cheng, X., Wei, B., Chen, G., Li, J., and Song, C. (2014). “Influence of
landmark with a zonal vegetation community can play a positive park size and its surrounding urban landscape patterns on the park cool-
role in the conservation of local biodiversity and the construction of ing effect.” J. Urban Plann. Dev., 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-5444
a locally-characteristic landscape. .0000256, A4014002.
Costanza, R., et al. (1997). “The value of the world’s ecosystem services
and natural capital.” Nature, 387, 253–260.
Concluding Remarks Długoński, A., and Szumańsk, M. (2015). “Grounds for the analysis
of green infrastructure on the example of the city of Lodz, Poland.”
The papers presented in this SI demonstrate the importance of ur- J. Urban Plann. Dev., in press.
ban green infrastructure for sustainable development. Its vital role Elmqvist, T., et al. (2013). Global urbanisation, biodiversity and ecosys-
for a healthy urban ecosystem and high living quality for urban tem services: Challenges and opportunities, Springer, Heidelberg,
residents is showcased by different international case study cities, New York.
concepts and methods of evaluation and analyses conducted by Endlicher, W. (2011). Perspectives in urban ecology: Ecosystems and
a variety of disciplines. The contributions of the SI clearly show interactions between humans and nature in the Metropolis of Berlin,
that there is the need by science and practice to reposition urban Springer, Heidelberg, Germany.
Ergen, B. (2014). “Euclidean distance mapping and the proposed greenway
green from a passive, urbanization-affected role to urban green
method in Malta.” J. Urban Plann. Dev., 10.1061/(ASCE)UP.1943-
infrastructure—an active, stable element steering cities toward
5444.0000163, 04013002.
sustainable development.
Ernstson, H., Sörlin, S., and Elmqvist, T. (2008). “Social movements and
ecosystem services: The role of social network structure in protecting
and managing urban green areas in Stockholm.” Ecol. Soc., 13(2), 39.
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