Modelling ecosystem services in the Metropolitan Borough of Sheffield

A University of Sheffield project demonstrating how multiple ecosystem services can be quantified using easily accessible/publically available data, to produce maps of six key ecosystem services in a large urban area: the city of Sheffield, UK. The aim was to understand the spatial pattern of ecosystem service provision in Sheffield, to assess the extent to which urban ecosystem services may be managed and/or conserved together, whether it is possible to identify priority areas for creating hotspots of ecosystem service provision, and whether the unit at which services are mapped matters for decision-making.

Shef hotspot maps








Shef hotspot maps_heca








Maps showing the number of ecosystem services for which each (a) 500m grid square, and (b) HECA is a hotspot.

Mapping – the six ecosystem services mapped were reduction of air pollution by vegetation, mitigation of the heat island effect by vegetation, reduction of storm water runoff through retention in soils and by vegetation, carbon storage in soils and vegetation, opportunities for cultural ecosystem services (e.g. recreation and relaxation) in greenspace, and the provision of habitat for flora and fauna. Maps were produced for all these ecosystem services individually at 500m grid square, Historical Environment Character Area (HECA: areas of relatively homogeneous urban design, based on areas identified as unique and characterised as one of twelve broad types derived from the South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation Project) and Output Area (OA: socioeconomic aspects of the resident population from UK 2001 Census data) spatial units. Hotspots maps were also produced at each spatial unit.
Outcomes – the spatial pattern of each ecosystem service showed its own distinct pattern, but service production tended to be high or low in similar places. Green space allowed areas of high production (hotspots) of multiple services in both the urban centre and rural fringes of the city. The detection of ecosystem service hotspots is dependent on how services are mapped, in particular, on the spatial resolution of the mapping unit. This work has been of broad interest particularly to The Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Sheffield City Council, The National Trust and the Sheffield Green Infrastructure Consortium.
Further information: Paper available online here.