Ecosystem services in urban areas seminar 2011



Synthesizing different perspectives on the value of urban ecosystem services

Seminar and workshop

Date: 15–16 July 2011

Venue: University of Lodz, Poland

Selected papers from the seminar have been published in the special issue of Landscape and Urban Planning (vol. 109, no. 1)

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Since 2008 more than half of the world population lives in cities and within the next 40 years the percentage of urban dwellers will increase to 70. Urban populations do not only use ecosystem services from outside (clearly their ecological footprints are much larger than their physical areas) but, often unknowingly, they also rely on urban ecosystems. While researchers primarily focus on distant ecosystems, crucial for the preservation of life on the planet, most local ecosystems in urban areas suffer from an increasing pressure from further urbanization. Although less important from the perspective of planetary sustainability, they are important for the sustainability and durability of life in urban areas. Meanwhile, important urban ecosystem services are often being neglected without the understanding of their importance and value.

The environmental impacts of cities have led to a number of policy decisions, such as the inclusion of urban areas in the IPCC considerations of climate impacts or the recognition of the role of cities in national biodiversity protection strategies by the CBD COP 9 in 2008. The establishment of the European Green Capital award in 2006 provides an example of promoting good practice in the area of urban ecosystem services management.

Attempts have been made to highlight the value of urban ecosystem services, especially with reference to urban greenery, water and allotment gardens. Different perspectives on the value of urban ecosystem services have been revealed, including economic (benefits and savings), socio-ecological (resilience), psychological (well-being), cultural (e.g. inspiration), and philosophical or ethical. On the one hand, such a multitude of perspectives appeals to different groups of addressees. On the other hand, ultimately, it weakens the message delivered to decision makers who often only follow the narrowly understood economic reasoning. The objective of this seminar is to bring together the various perspectives on the value of urban ecosystem services and discuss the potential of merging and synthesizing these perspectives. Ultimately, this should lay foundations for a more sustainable management of ecosystem services in urban areas.



  • To exchange information and ideas, based on the presentation of the cutting-edge research on the different perspectives on the value of ecosystem services in urban areas.
  • To discuss the potential joint research project with case studies in various European and non-European countries.
  • To prepare a special issue of an international journal, based on seminar contributions.
  • To support the Challenges of Sustainable Development international summer academy, the participants of which will be invited to take part in the seminar.


Conference topics

  • Value of ecosystem services in urban areas.
  • Social networks and ecosystem services in urban areas.
  • Institutional frameworks for the management of ecosystem services in urban areas.
  • Ecosystem services in urban areas as a source of inspiration.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to studying ecosystem services in urban areas.



Lodz (Łódź) is the third largest city in Poland, located 130 km south-west of Warsaw, in the centre of the country. It is still a relatively green city, in spite of its rapid development in the 19th century as the capital of the Polish textile industry. Lodz provides a particularly interesting case study of the regeneration of urban ecosystem services. Over time the rich network of streams and rivers that once made the development of textile industry possible degraded into a network of subterranean sewage canals. The same system can now serve as a basis for a large scale urban revitalization programme within the Blue–Green Network, a concept promoted by the European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology under the auspices of UNESCO (a tour of the elements of this network will be organised on Saturday, 16 July 2011).

Website of the city of Lodz office:


Conference venue

The seminar will take place in the buildings of the Faculty of Economics and Sociology of the University of Lodz. The faculty is located in the centre of the city, within a 5 minutes walking distance from the main railway station.


Challenges of Sustainable Development Summer Academy

Since 1998, the Sendzimir Foundation has been organizing an international Summer Academy, Challenges of Sustainable Development. Each July the Academy is attended by about 25 young sustainability professionals from Central and Eastern Europe. They do not only listen to lectures but primarily take part in practical projects aimed at solving real life sustainability problems. In 2011 the Summer Academy will take place in Lodz and the participants will be working with city authorities on issues related to the value of urban ecosystem services. Both city authorities and the participants of the Summer Academy will be invited to attend parts of our seminar.


Scientific committee

Professor Ian Bateman, University of East Anglia, UK

Professor Klaus Hubacek, University of Maryland, College Park, USA

Professor Jouni Paavola, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Jan Sendzimir, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria

Professor Maciej Zalewski, European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology under the auspices of UNESCO

Professor Tomasz Żylicz, University of Warsaw, Poland


Keynote speakers (more information)

Professor Jürgen H. Breuste, Paris-Lodron-University, Salzburg

Urban Ecosystem services on the local level: Urban green spaces as providers of urban ecosystem services

Professor Dagmar Haase, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, and Humboldt Universität, Berlin

Integrating urban ecosystem service(s) provisioning for urban regions – synergies, trade-offs and losses

Dr Åsa Jansson, Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm

The essentiality of combining the ecology "of" cities with the ecology "in" cities, for safeguarding a sustainable delivery of ecosystem services to city inhabitants over time



Sendzimir Foundation

University of Lodz

European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology under the auspices of UNESCO

Coordinator: Jakub Kronenberg


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