|dc.description.abstract||Rapid urbanization gives rise to development pressures on natural areas, posing threats to urban ecosystems and ecosystem services. The relationship between development pressures and ecosystem services is challenging to realize quantitatively, as urban land use plans rarely integrate the intrinsic values of ecosystem services or consider the implications of development actions on ecosystem services. Ecosystem services-based environmental assessment and urban planning are receiving increased attention, but there remains a need for future-oriented and scenario-based approaches to the consideration of ecosystem services in urban land use planning, with the demonstrated application. This research advanced an ecosystem services-based strategic environmental assessment framework and applied the framework to evaluate the ecosystem services of an urban natural area under current and future land-use scenarios.
The study area is Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale, a 26-kilometer-long ecological corridor that provides important ecosystem services like biodiversity, stormwater storage, recreational and educational opportunities, and scenic amenities. Currently, the Northeast Swale is subject to the cumulative stress of a growing city, including residential expansion, stormwater drainage, habitat fragmentation, and a freeway, many of which do not trigger any regulatory impact assessment. The research methods included a review of planning documents, interviews with stakeholders to identify priority ecosystem services, and a survey-based choice experiment to evaluate ecosystem services under alternative land use scenarios. Four swale attributes were used as ecosystem service proxies to estimate the value of those attributes under alternative future land use scenarios and to identify a preferred future based on residents’ values for ecosystem services.
The key findings suggest that the swale’s ecosystem services are important to local residents and residents are concerned about the negative impacts of current and future development actions on the Northeast Swale. As a result, the land use attributes hold considerable monetary value and residents prefer a future upholding robust protection of ecosystem services of the Northeast Swale, including conserving wetland area, minimizing use disturbance, and restricting new residential development. The monetary estimates of ecosystem services derived from this research will help in making informed decisions on the conservation of the Northeast Swale. For city planners, conservation authorities, and land developers, this research provides an important baseline for assessing impacts of development actions on ecosystems and environmental amenities, for making informed decisions on land-use trade-offs and future planning priorities, and for identifying viable mitigation options.||