Mapping ecosystem service capacity, flow and demand for landscape and urban planning: A case study in the Barcelona metropolitan region

Francesc Baró, Ignacio Palomo, Grazia Zulian, Pilar Vizcaino, Dagmar Haase, Erik Gómez-Baggethun

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315 Cites (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Ecosystem services (ES) mapping is attracting growing interest from landscape and urban planning, but its operationalization in actual decision-making is still limited. A clear distinction between ES capacity, flow and demand can improve the usefulness of ES mapping as a decision-support tool by informing planners and policy-makers where ES are used unsustainably and where ES flow is failing to meet societal demand. This paper advances a framework for mapping and assessing the relationships between ES capacity, flow and demand with a focus on the identification of unsatisfied demand. The framework was tested in the Barcelona metropolitan region, Spain, considering two ES of critical relevance for the urban population: air purification and outdoor recreation. For both ES, spatial indicators of capacity, flow, demand and unsatisfied demand were developed using proxy- and process-based models. The results show a consistent spatial pattern of all these components along the urban-rural gradient for the two ES assessed. The flow of both ES mainly takes place in the periurban green areas whereas the highest capacity values are mostly found in the protected areas located on the outskirts of the metropolitan region. As expected, ES demand and particularly unsatisfied demand are mostly situated in the main urban core (i.e., Barcelona and adjacent cities). Our assessment also reveals that the current landscape planning instrument for the metropolitan region mostly protects areas with high capacity to provide ES, but might lead to declining ES flows in periurban areas due to future urban developments. We contend that the mapping of ES capacity, flow and demand can contribute to the successful integration of the ES approach in landscape and urban planning because it provides a comprehensive picture of the ES delivery process, considering both ecological and social underlying factors. However, we identify three main issues that should be better addressed in future research: (1) improvement of ES demand indicators using participatory methods; (2) integration of ecological thresholds into the analysis; and (3) use of a multi-scale approach that covers both the local and regional planning levels and cross-scale interactions between them.
Idioma originalEnglish
Pàgines (de-a)405-417
RevistaLand Use Policy
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 30 de nov. 2016


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