Adaptive governance to promote ecosystem services in urban green spaces.

Managing urban green space as part of an ongoing social-ecological transformation poses novel governance issues, particularly in post-industrial settings. Urban green spaces operate as small-scale nodes in larger networks of ecological reserves that provide and maintain key ecosystem services such as pollination, water retention and infiltration, and sustainable food production. In an urban mosaic, a myriad of social and ecological components factor into aggregating and managing land to maintain or increase the flow of ecosystem services associated with green spaces. Vacant lots (a form of urban green space) are being repurposed for multiple functions, such as habitat for biodiversity, including arthropods that provide pollination services to other green areas; to capture urban runoff that eases the burden on ageing wastewater systems and other civic infrastructure; and to reduce urban heat island effects. Because of the uncertainty and complexities of managing for ecosystem services in urban settings, we advocate for a governance approach that is adaptive and iterative in nature—adaptive governance—to address the ever changing social order underlying post-industrial cities and offer the rise of land banks as an example of governance innovation. (Full publication)