Valuation of ecosystem services provided by urban greenery

Urbanization and densification of Swedish cities during the last decades has led to a decrease of greenery in our cities. Despite the importance of greenery for a good, environmentally sustainable urban living, it may easily draw the short straw when cities are densified or transportation infrastructure is rebuilt. The project therefore studied the spatial distribution of urban greenery in Gothenburg and highlighted its value and ability to provide vital services in the city.

Integrating urban greenery into urban planning

Methods that make it possible to efficiently integrate urban greenery into urban planning and risk management was developed within this project. The aim was to develop a method that will identify and provide an integrated assessment of ecosystem services provided by urban greenery. Strategies for how greenery can be used to promote sustainable urban development was also be developed

Quality of ecosystem services

The methods and strategies was developed through assessing and evaluating the current quality of a number of ecosystem services provided by urban greenery, their development potential and examining how the ecosystem services interact. The ecosystems services that was studied are: biodiversity, noise reduction, air soil and water management, climate regulation, recreation and well-being.

Urban greenery in Gothenburg

Seven green spaces in Gothenburg, Sweden was used as case studies. Examples of green spaces include vegetation along rivers and roads, parks, gardens, and urban woodland.  Read more about the case study areas here (in Swedish). Gothenburg is interesting due to its pressure to densify the city and its vulnerability to climate change (floods, heavy rains, landslides and heat waves). The methods used include spatial data analysis, field measurements, modeling, questionnaires, expert judgments and multi-criteria analysis (synthesis).


The results of the research project as a whole support previous studies that have shown that urban greenery is very important and constitutes a basis for the city's ecosystem services. An important conclusion from the project is that the city's informal greenery is important, not least for recreation. Further down on this site you will find the scientific articles and reports published by the research project.

The project has also produced a handbook on how to value ecosystem service, available here in Swedish. 

Read the story of What Came next - Handbook shows how greenery creates sustainable cities


Konarska, J., Holmer, B., Lindberg, F.,Thorsson, S. (2016). Influence of vegetation and building geometry on the spatial variations of air temperature and cooling rates in a high-latitude city. International Journal of Climatology, 36(5), 2379–2395.
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Konarska, J., Uddling, J., Holmer, B., Lutz, M., Lindberg, F., Pleijel, H., & Thorsson, S. (2015). Transpiration of urban trees and its cooling effect in a high latitude city. International Journal of Biometeorology, 60(1), 159–172.
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Andersson-Sköld Y, Klingberg J, Gunnarsson B och Thorsson S (2018). Metod för bedömning och värdering av ekosystemtjänster i staden (VEKST), Handbok version 1.0. Göteborgs universitet, rapport C123, ISSN 1400-383X
Type: Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
Andersson-Sköld Y., Klingberg J., Gunnarsson B., Cullinane K., Gustafsson I., Hedblom M., Knez I., Lindberg F., Ode Sang Å., Pleijel H., Thorsson P., Thorsson S., 2018. A framework for assessing urban greenery's effects and valuing its ecosystem services.
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Klingberg J., Konarska J., Lindberg F., Johansson L., Thorsson S., 2017. Mapping leaf area of urban greenery using aerial LiDAR and ground-based measurements in Gothenburg, Sweden. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 26:31-40
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)

Project members

  • Sofia Thorsson

    Project leader. Associate professor at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg.

    Research interests include urban climate, focusing on measurements and modelling of micro-scale processes, air quality and human comfort in urban areas, as well as integration of climate knowledge in urban design and planning.


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  • Bengt Gunnarsson

    Project leader. Professor of Environmental Science at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg.

    The research interest is focused on urban biodiversity and its impact on various ecosystem services, e.g. the effects of different management regimes on ecosystem services in suburban woodlands.

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  • Yvonne Andersson-Sköld

    Associate professor at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg

    Has special interest in sustainability assessments including method development. In this project the aim is to assess how proposed urban greening planning strategies promotes sustainable urban development today and in a future climate based on interviews, workshops and the results from the field surveys in an iterative process.

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  • Marcus Hedblom

    PhD, Researcher and Analysist at the Swedish Agricultural University, Department of Forest resource management in Umeå and Department of Ecology in Uppsala.

    Within this project he studies how the collection of biological data can support other ecosystem services that relates to e.g. well-being, noice reduction and air pollution. More specifically how the actual collection of the biological data can be used for monitoring of ecosystem services connected to the urban green.


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  • Jenny Klingberg

    PhD in Applied Environmental Science, Postdoc at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg

    Research interests include the role of urban vegetation for climate regulation and air quality. The aim within this project is to measure leaf area of the city trees and relate it to a number of ecosystem services.

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  • Igor Knez

    Professor of psychology at the Department of Social Work and Psychology, University of Gävle

    In general, my research interests involve issues related to cognitive, emotion and environmental psychology. In this project my attention is focused on the links between the cultural ecosystem service of place-related identity and well-being, as related to urban green spaces.

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  • Fredrik Lindberg

    PhD in Physical Geography at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg

    Research interests are spatial modelling of urban climates focusing on the influence of buildings, vegetation and green spaces on human thermal comfort in urban areas as well as modelling of mean radiant temperature in complex urban settings.


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  • Åsa Ode Sang

    Associate professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

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  • Håkan Pleijel

    Professor in Environmental science at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg

    My research focus is plant-atmosphere interactions. In the project my task is to show how urban vegetation affects the occurrence of air pollutants and the urban local climate based on measurements and a literature review. The local climate effect by vegetation is related to the cooling effect from transpiration by urban trees.

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  • Pontus Thorsson

    PhD in acoustics, Division of Applied Acoustics, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg

    Research interests are the development of calculation models for sound generation and propagation outdoors from differens sound sources, e g road and railway traffic, wind turbines and general sound sources. In my research I also develop alternative measures that correlate well with the perception of the human ear and/or subjective annoyance.

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  • Johan Uddling Fredin

    Associate professor at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg

    My main research interest is to understand and predict how plants (in particular trees) respond to and interact with the atmosphere under different environmental conditions. In the present project, I study the transpiration of urban trees and its influence on the local energy balance and temperature.

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