Biodiversity and environmental stressors along urban walking routes

Journal article


Norton, B., Mears, M., Warren, P. H., Siriwardena, G. M., Plummer, K. E., Turner, T., Hancock, S., Grafius, D. R. and Evans, K. L. 2023. Biodiversity and environmental stressors along urban walking routes. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. 85, pp. 1-12. https://doi.org//10.1016/j.ufug.2023.127951
AuthorsNorton, B., Mears, M., Warren, P. H., Siriwardena, G. M., Plummer, K. E., Turner, T., Hancock, S., Grafius, D. R. and Evans, K. L.
Abstract

There is increasing focus on designing liveable cities that promote walking. However, urban walking routes can expose people to adverse environmental conditions that reduce health, well-being and biodiversity. Our primary objective is to assess how urban form is associated with environmental quality, including biodiversity, for people moving through urban spaces. We assess a range of environmental conditions that influence human health and biodiversity (temperature, noise and particulate pollution) and biodiversity of three taxa (trees, butterflies and birds) along 700 m public walking routes embedded in 500 m x 500 m grid cells across three UK towns. Cells are selected using random stratification across an urbanisation intensity gradient. Walking routes in more built-up areas were noisier and hotter; noise levels further increased in areas with more industrial land-use and large roads. There was no evidence of vegetation mitigating noise or temperature, but there was some evidence that increased vegetation cover mitigated small particulate pollution. Walking routes in more built-up environments had lower butterfly, bird and native tree species richness, and reduced butterfly abundance. Large roads were associated with reduced bird species richness and increased noise was associated with reduced bird abundance. Most specific measures of vegetation in the surrounding matrix (median patch size, structural complexity at 1.5 m resolution) were not detectably associated with biodiversity along walking routes, indicating minimal beneficial spill-over. Increased garden cover in the surrounding matrix was associated with less abundant and less species-rich butterfly communities. Our results highlight considerable heterogeneity in the environmental quality of urban walking routes and pedestrians’ potential to experience biodiversity along these routes, driven by reduced quality in areas with more built cover. A greater focus is needed on mitigating adverse effects of specific features of the built environment (roads, industrial areas, noise) surrounding walking routes to enhance the co-benefits of more biodiversity and healthier conditions for pedestrians.

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Keywordsliveable cities; walking ; Green infrastructure; Sustainable cities
Year2023
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Journal citation85, pp. 1-12
PublisherElsevier
ISSN1618-8667
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org//10.1016/j.ufug.2023.127951
Web address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S161886672300122X
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online25 Apr 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted22 Apr 2023
Deposited30 Jun 2023
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