Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland with a population of around 500,000. As well as being known for its UNESCO listed built heritage, Edinburgh has a number of open hills and wooded waterways that are prominent components of the townscape. Edinburgh is also a growing city, planning to build nearly 30,000 new houses by 2024. This, combined with municipal funding cuts, puts considerable pressure on the city’s green spaces and surrounding Green Belt.
The Edinburgh ULL comprises a dynamic group of stakeholders from the local government, business community, government agencies, community groups, non-governmental as well as research organisations, and focuses on improving urban ecosystem services – the benefits people derive from the functioning of nature or from ecosystem processes – in the city.
Engaging more people with urban green space is one of the key themes of interest of the Edinburgh ULL. This is particularly pertinent for deprived areas, where high impacts with regard to health and well-being could be made. Supporting biodiversity by making conservation more strategic is a second area of interest to the ULL stakeholders, with a particular demand for knowledge on how wildlife is influenced by green infrastructure, or the lack thereof, in different areas of the city. Finally, the Edinburgh ULL also has a shared interest in finding new ways of quantifying and valuing ecosystem services. There is a need to financially quantify and spatially map ecosystem services. Whilst the former may help to explain to decision-makers that investing in green space makes economic sense, the latter would allow for more strategic investment of available funds by highlighting disadvantaged areas. Exploring new methods to engage businesses in urban green infrastructure development and maintenance could provide another route to delivering high quality green spaces in the current climate of public sector budget cuts.
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