The Most Important Current Research Questions in Urban Ecosystem Services

47 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014 Last revised: 30 Mar 2015

See all articles by James E. Salzman

James E. Salzman

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold

University of Louisville - Brandeis School of Law

Robert Garcia

The City Project

Keith H. Hirokawa

Albany Law School

Kay Jowers

Sociology Department, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill; Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Jeffrey LeJava

Pace University - School of Law

Margaret Peloso

Vinson & Elkins LLP

Lydia P. Olander

Stanford University

Date Written: August 19, 2014

Abstract

We tend to take nature’s ecological systems – or ecosystems – for granted, but they provide critically valuable services to society and to urban areas. They create a sense of place and recreational opportunities, contributing to quality of life by enhancing human physical and psychological health. This is particularly true for cities, where economic productivity, fiscal soundness, community life, and governance are tied to natural surroundings in distinct, unique and generally under-appreciated ways. Because the urbanized world depends on ecosystem services – both inside and outside of city boundaries – investing in the provision of ecosystem services will often be more cost-effective than response actions, such as treatment, restoration, and disaster response. Given the importance of urban ecosystem benefits to surrounding populations, we might expect that ecosystem services would play a prominent role in the formulation of urban policies, plans, and laws. However, with rare exception, they do not. Many cities are experiencing declines of the ecosystems that sustain them. Metropolitan areas are losing open space, farmland, and environmentally sensitive lands.

As America, and indeed the rest of the world, becomes increasingly urbanized, these issues are of the first importance in seeking to improve quality of life. The scholarship in the area, though, has been fragmented by discipline. Much remains to be done. First and foremost, we must identify the pressing research needs. This article brings together the collective insights of scholars and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines – lawyers and urban planners to ecologists and economists. Taking a comprehensive and wide-ranging view of the field, we identify the most important research questions that should shape the future of scholarship on urban ecosystem services. In doing so, we seek to help shape the trajectory of research across multiple disciplines in this growing and critical area.

Suggested Citation

Salzman, James E. and Arnold, Craig (Tony) Anthony and Garcia, Robert and Hirokawa, Keith H. and Jowers, Kay and LeJava, Jeffrey and Peloso, Margaret and Olander, Lydia P., The Most Important Current Research Questions in Urban Ecosystem Services (August 19, 2014). Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Forthcoming; Albany Law School Research Paper No. 4 for 2014-2015; Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2483455

James E. Salzman (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )

4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Craig (Tony) Anthony Arnold

University of Louisville - Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States
502-852-6388 (Phone)
502-852-0862 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.louisville.edu/law

Robert Garcia

The City Project ( email )

1055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1660
Los Angeles, CA 90017
United States

Keith H. Hirokawa

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

Kay Jowers

Sociology Department, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University ( email )

2117 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Jeffrey LeJava

Pace University - School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

Margaret Peloso

Vinson & Elkins LLP

600 Congress Avenue, Suite 2700
Austin, TX 78701
United States

Lydia P. Olander

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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