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The ecosystem services of urban soils: a review

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number115076
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2021
Number of pages12
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date19/03/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The expansion of urban areas worldwide is increasing the anthropogenic impact upon soil and highlights the important role of urban areas in supporting a sustainable future. As such, urban soils are becoming more important in the delivery of a broad range of ecosystem services (ESs), including carbon storage and climate regulation, biomass provision for food and water flow regulation, and recreational benefits. In this review, we aim to support the development of this emerging research area and, subsequently, support the improved treatment and management of urban soil and ES delivery. We present a systematic review of which ESs have been studied and examine trends in research using a co-occurrence analysis of key terms. We then provide a summary review of current knowledge on ESs and identify the gaps in knowledge. Our review highlights that this is a young, but growing, field of research, with a marked increase in publications since 2014. We found that supporting processes and regulating services were most commonly studied, with 88% and 71% of the papers relating to quantitative studies addressing these, respectively. Cultural, provisioning and water-related ESs were relatively understudied, suggesting key gaps for future research. However, this may be attributable to a disconnection between academic communities rather than a lack of knowledge. Fewer than 20% of quantitative studies addressed more than two ESs simultaneously, leading us to suggest that urban soil multifunctionality is a key area for future research, and highlighting the need to integrate understanding of urban soil ESs across disciplines and professions. In addition to this overarching suggestion, we propose six research gaps and opportunities: further research into biomass provision for food, water-related ESs and cultural ESs; greater geographical representation; further interconnection between research and practitioner communities; and a focus on the future drivers of soil change in urban environments.