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Keywords:

  • Urban fringe;
  • Land use planning;
  • Soil sealing;
  • Ecosystem services;
  • Best-practice examples

Abstract

This article presents a literature review that explores the challenges for planning in urban regions in connection with the preservation of ecosystem services. It further presents some best practice examples for meeting these challenges. The demand for the provision of ecosystem services within urban regions changed during the transition from a largely agrarian society to an industrial society and, most recently, to a service society. Although in the past, provisioning services such as food production or the provision of raw material were decisive for urban development, today cultural services, e.g., clear views or nearby recreation areas, have become increasingly important. According to the literature, soil sealing is the greatest threat urbanization poses toward ecosystem services, as it compromises all of them. Spatially extensive cities with a high building density particularly inhibit regulating services like the regulation of temperature or water surface runoff. Conversely, scattered settlement patterns may lead to very small remnants of open space that cannot reasonably serve as natural habitat, agricultural land, or recreation area. The challenges for planning in urban regions are: 1) specifying regulations that define outer limits to the development of each settlement unit, 2) comprehensive planning with focal points for development, and limiting access and development at other places, and 3) compensating for new soil sealing by restoring nearby sealed areas. The article presents 3 best-practice examples that support these principles: designating areas with a particular soil quality that should not be built over, offering incentives for corporate planning in urban regions, and restoring a country road in connection with a motorway construction. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2013; 9: 243–251. © 2013 SETAC