Mapping and valuing urban ecosystem services in the greater Kuala Lumpur metropolitan city

Lourdes, Karen Thivya (2023) Mapping and valuing urban ecosystem services in the greater Kuala Lumpur metropolitan city. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Unprecedented urban growth has placed increasing pressure on cities globally. The intensive land use changes that follow urban growth often result in the degradation of natural ecosystems, with adverse consequences for the wellbeing of urban populations as the potential delivery of ecosystem services diminishes. This thesis: 1) investigated the spatial distribution of urban ecosystem services in Greater Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2) tested the utilisation of two off-the-shelf ecosystem service valuation tools (SolVES and InVEST) in supporting urban planning, and 3) investigated the extent to which urban ecosystem services and urban biodiversity have been considered as part of sustainable development planning in Kuala Lumpur.

Chapter One outlines the aim and scope of the thesis and sets out the research questions addressed in subsequent chapters. It also introduces key concepts and tools used in this thesis.

Chapter Two provides a systematic review on the nature and extent of urban ecosystem services research in Southeast Asia in the last two decades. The chapter showed that while urban ecosystem services research in the region has burgeoned over the last five years, research is unequally distributed across Southeast Asia. The chapter found that research often assessed regulating and cultural urban ecosystem services at a landscape scale, though research on synergistic and tradeoff interactions between services were limited. It showed that research was biased towards more developed cities and countries in the region, which may overlook less-developed nations as well as rural and peri-urban regions and their unique preferences towards urban ecosystem services management. The chapter discusses challenges and considerations for urban ecosystem services research in Southeast Asia, given the region’s unique and diverse socioeconomic characteristics, and outlines knowledge gaps addressed in subsequent chapters in this thesis.

Chapter Three provides a novel assessment of the distribution of social values for ecosystem services across the Greater Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area. A public participatory GIS survey and the SolVES tool were used to determine residents’ development preferences and perceptions of social values. The chapter reveals that the heterogenous spatial distribution of social values across urban and peri-urban areas was influenced by residents’ development preferences and sociodemographic characteristics. The non-spatial differences in residents’ characteristics and development preferences were found to manifest as larger differences in the spatial distribution of social values, leading to conflicts between groups with different development preferences. The work highlights locations where there is potential for land-use conflict with respect to future urban expansion, emphasising the need for further public engagement and the consideration of multiple perspectives in designing cities.

Chapter Four presents a systematic method for integrating the outcomes of a multiple urban ecosystem services assessment to support green infrastructure development across urbanising landscapes. The chapter combines biophysical InVEST ecosystem service models with multicriteria suitability analysis to provide spatially explicit recommendations on targeted areas for five future green infrastructure strategies. The realised distribution of urban ecosystem services was high in seminatural areas and low in urban areas, highlighting the lack of green infrastructure in dense urban areas. The ecosystem services-based suitability analysis showed that some parts of the study area were suitable for the implementation of more than one type of green infrastructure strategy. The findings suggest that the selection of appropriate green infrastructure strategies must consider the varying degree of urban development in the study area and the implication of these strategies for local communities.

Chapter Five investigates the extent to which ecosystem services and urban biodiversity were considered in sustainable urban development academic and policy literature in Malaysia. The literature review and content analysis indicated that academic literature and policy documents emphasised the aesthetic and cultural aspects of nature in urban design but rarely captured the full suite of ecosystem services found in cities. The chapter also identified several ecological knowledge gaps in academic literature and policy documents and calls for broader ecological perspectives in sustainable urban development research and policy initiatives. Recommendations are made for the adoption of stronger nature-based approaches through the incorporation of ecosystem services in urban planning. The chapter also highlights the need for critical assessments on the effectiveness of sustainable planning policies in the region, to ensure that sustainability initiatives are on track to meet their objectives.

Chapter Six concludes this thesis by synthesising the contributions of the work and highlights challenges for future research in integrating urban ecosystem services to support planning of sustainable and resilient cities.

The concept of urban ecosystem services investigated in this thesis will become increasingly important in planning sustainable cities globally, but more so in the Global South, where cities are growing rapidly and are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The research conducted in this thesis contributes to the limited and exigently needed body of urban ecosystem services knowledge in a tropical Global South city. The novel application of ecosystem service valuation tools and methods demonstrated in this thesis can be adapted for urban areas in Southeast Asia and other Global South regions to support the planning of resilient urban ecosystems.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Lechner, Alex M.
Gibbins, Christopher
Hamel, Perrine
Sanusi, Ruzana
Azhar, Badrul
Keywords: urban ecosystem services, social values, sociodemographic, metropolitan city,
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences
Item ID: 71906
Depositing User: Lourdes, Karen
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2023 04:40

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