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Social-ecological and technological factors moderate the value of urban nature


Urban nature has the potential to improve air and water quality, mitigate flooding, enhance physical and mental health, and promote social and cultural well-being. However, the value of urban ecosystem services remains highly uncertain, especially across the diverse social, ecological and technological contexts represented in cities around the world. We review and synthesize research on the contextual factors that moderate the value and equitable distribution of ten of the most commonly cited urban ecosystem services. Our work helps to identify strategies to more efficiently, effectively and equitably implement nature-based solutions.

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The work was supported by a grant from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment to B.L.K. and a University of Minnesota Grand Challenges Research award to B.L.K. and M.H.H. Additional support was provided by the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University. T.M.’s participation was supported by the Urban Resilience to Extreme Weather-Related Events Sustainability Research Network (URExSRN; NSF grant no. SES 1444755). Assistance with literature review, formatting and references was provided by V. Dang, M. Rattu and A. Rutledge. S. Polasky and P. Kareiva provided valuable feedback on framing and early drafts of the manuscript.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Bonnie L. Keeler.

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Fig. 1: A framework for analysing the value of urban nature-based solutions.