Classifying and valuing ecosystem services for urban planning

Erik Gómez-Baggethun, David N. Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

998 Citations (Scopus)


While technological progress has fostered the conception of an urban society that is increasingly decoupled from ecosystems, demands on natural capital and ecosystem services keep increasing steadily in our urbanized planet. Decoupling of cities from ecological systems can only occur locally and partially, thanks to the appropriation of vast areas of ecosystem services provision beyond the city boundaries. Conserving and restoring ecosystem services in urban areas can reduce the ecological footprints and the ecological debts of cities while enhancing resilience, health, and quality of life for their inhabitants. In this paper we synthesize knowledge and methods to classify and value ecosystem services for urban planning. First, we categorize important ecosystem services and disservices in urban areas. Second, we describe valuation languages (economic costs, socio-cultural values, resilience) that capture distinct value dimensions of urban ecosystem services. Third, we identify analytical challenges for valuation to inform urban planning in the face of high heterogeneity and fragmentation characterizing urban ecosystems. The paper discusses various ways through which urban ecosystems services can enhance resilience and quality of life in cities and identifies a range of economic costs and socio-cultural impacts that can derive from their loss. We conclude by identifying knowledge gaps and challenges for the research agenda on ecosystem services provided in urban areas. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-245
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • Cities
  • Ecosystem disservices
  • Ecosystem services
  • Green infrastructure
  • Resilience
  • Urban ecosystems
  • Urban planning
  • Valuation


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