Nature-based solutions (NBS) are becoming popular in urban planning and policy making as cost-effective solutions capable of delivering multiple ecosystem services and addressing several societal challenges. So far, however, the cost-effectiveness of urban NBS projects has not been consistently quantified by built environment professionals, who lack user-friendly tools to account for the environmental costs and benefits of NBS. This paper presents a prototype online decision support tool (NBenefit$((R))) that calculates the negative and positive environmental impacts, externalities, and financial values of planned urban forests over their entire life cycle. NBenefit$ relies on a modelling framework that combines system dynamics, urban ecology, and life cycle thinking approaches, and it is presented as a visual web-based interface. An online map and a grid of cells is used to map the site of intervention, to delineate the size of the urban forest, and to define variations in abiotic, biotic, and management attributes in each site. Outputs are provided by year, for the entire site and NBS life cycle. The potential value of NBenefit$ as a supporting tool was exemplified with the calculation of 48 urban forest archetypes, a few of which were used to set scenarios for a hypothetical urban forest in Madrid (Spain). The results showcase the impact that decisions taken during the planning, design, or management of an NBS project may have on its long-term performance. Future works will expand the scope of NBenefit$, including other types of urban NBS.

Assessing Net Environmental and Economic Impacts of Urban Forests: An Online Decision Support Tool

Javier Babi Almenar;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are becoming popular in urban planning and policy making as cost-effective solutions capable of delivering multiple ecosystem services and addressing several societal challenges. So far, however, the cost-effectiveness of urban NBS projects has not been consistently quantified by built environment professionals, who lack user-friendly tools to account for the environmental costs and benefits of NBS. This paper presents a prototype online decision support tool (NBenefit$((R))) that calculates the negative and positive environmental impacts, externalities, and financial values of planned urban forests over their entire life cycle. NBenefit$ relies on a modelling framework that combines system dynamics, urban ecology, and life cycle thinking approaches, and it is presented as a visual web-based interface. An online map and a grid of cells is used to map the site of intervention, to delineate the size of the urban forest, and to define variations in abiotic, biotic, and management attributes in each site. Outputs are provided by year, for the entire site and NBS life cycle. The potential value of NBenefit$ as a supporting tool was exemplified with the calculation of 48 urban forest archetypes, a few of which were used to set scenarios for a hypothetical urban forest in Madrid (Spain). The results showcase the impact that decisions taken during the planning, design, or management of an NBS project may have on its long-term performance. Future works will expand the scope of NBenefit$, including other types of urban NBS.
2023
nature-based solution (NBS)
green infrastructure
ecosystem service
life cycle assessment (LCA)
life cycle costing (LCC)
urban sustainability
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1252377
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