What is the F3UES project?

Overview

Although understanding of the levels and distributions both of biodiversity and of ecosystem services in urban areas has improved dramatically in recent years the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services have been very poorly studied in urban areas. Indeed, these environments pose significant and unusual challenges:

  • the urban landscape is highly fragmented, with large portions sealed by buildings and paving
  • greenspaces are embedded in a complex mosaic of buildings and roads that imposes major constraints on the flows of biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery across the urban landscape
  • the intensity of human management of these environments can give rise to spatial patterns and scales of flows of energy, materials and biodiversity (on which ecosystem services depend) that would not naturally occur
  • the very aggregations of people that give rise to urban areas typically necessitate less conventional approaches to conducting ecological research than would be the case in less populated ecosystems

The aim of the F3UES project is to: develop a better understanding of the relationships between ecosystem service delivery and biodiversity in urban environments at the landscape scale. Our approach to this is based around the proposition that the fragmented structure of the urban environment, and the effects of this structure on flows of materials, organisms, environmental influences and people, is key to developing a practical understanding of the role of urban form in mediating ecosystem service provision in urban systems.

The project has five major components:

  1. Characterisation the spatial ecological structure of urban areas
  2. Determination of biodiversity-ecosystem service relationships and the influence of connectivity on them
  3. Determination of the flows of biodiversity, and service delivery in selected cases
  4. Experimental perturbation of biodiversity or flow to determine the impact on ecosystem service delivery
  5. Formulation of spatially explicit models which will form the basis of an “ecosystem service” layer for GIS models

This combination of data, experiment and modelling will enable us to develop a clearer understanding of the relationships between urban form, biodiversity and ecosystem function, and from that to provide illustrations for stakeholders (such as planners, local people and NGOs) as to how “scenarios” of different development proposals might be tested, providing support for decisions based on sound science and stakeholder engagement.