Matos, P., Vieira, J., Rocha, B., Branquinho, C. & Pinho, P. (2019) Modelling the provision of air-quality regulation ecosystem service provided by urban green spaces using lichens as ecological.Science of the Total Environment, 665, 521-530. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.023 (IF2019 6,551; Q1 Environmental Sciences)
The UN Sustainable Development Goals states that urban air pollution must be tackled to create more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities. Urban green infrastructures can mitigate air pollution, but a crucial step to use this knowledge into urban management is to quantify how much air-quality regulation can green spaces provide and to understand how the provision of this ecosystem service is affected by other environmental factors. Considering the insufficient number of air quality monitoring stations in cities to monitor the wide range of natural and anthropic sources of pollution with high spatial resolution, ecological indicators of air quality are an alternative cost-effective tool. The aim of this work was to model the supply of air-quality regulation based on urban green spaces characteristics and other environmental factors. For that, we sampled lichen diversity in the centroids of 42 urban green spaces in Lisbon, Portugal. Species richness was the best biodiversity metric responding to air pollution, considering its simplicity and its significative response to the air pollutants concentration data measured in the existent air quality monitoring stations. Using that metric, we then created a model to estimate the supply of air quality regulation provided by green spaces in all green spaces of Lisbon based on the response to the following environmental drivers: the urban green spaces size and its vegetation density. We also used the unexplained variance of this model to map the background air pollution. Overall, we suggest that management should target the smallest urban green spaces by increasing green space size or tree density. The use of ecological indicators, very flexible in space, allow the understanding and the modeling of the provision of air-quality regulation by urban green spaces, and how urban green spaces can be managed to improve air quality and thus improve human well-being and cities resilience.