Future of the Urban Environment & Ecosystem Services in the UK

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In the future, changes in the UK city systems and ‘system of cities’ will cause – and be caused by – changes in urban ecosystems and their services. There are many aspirational models for sustainable cities or ‘resilient cities’, but these have to fit with current realities and projections, both positive and negative. Overall this paper explores the interactions of UK cities and urban systems with ecosystems and the ‘services’ they provide, with a particular focus on the future. On the urban side we take a multi-scale approach, from neighborhoods, urban fringes and peri-urban areas, up to the UK system of cities. For ecosystems services, we follow the definitions of the UK National Ecosystems Assessment, 2011 (NAE) (‘socio-cultural, provisioning, regulating and supporting’). Then we analyse the urban-ecosystem interactions within four broad domains: ecosystems within the city; ecological flows through the city; location types around the wider city-region; and ecology-related human systems for the city. This is a complex task with generally patchy evidence. The paper therefore follows a method designed for such tasks, in the form of the ‘Synergy Foresight’ approach.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherGovernment Office for Science
Number of pages120
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2015

Publication series

NameGovernment Office of Science, Future of Cities Foresight programme
PublisherGovernment Office of Science


  • ecosystems services,
  • urban environment,
  • foresight and futures
  • transition pathways


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