Urban living is currently made possible through the goods and services derived from both local and distant natural systems, often subsidised by the extensive use of fossil fuels. For example, crops are typically farmed outside of cities, with fossil fuels underpinning the fertilization of soils, crop harvesting and processing, transport to consumers and the removal of the resulting waste. Urban living is also made more liveable by natural systems within and adjacent to cities. Parks provide accessible recreational space, whilst allotments can facilitate community development. Green spaces have health benefits as well, such as removing pollutants from the air. Biodiversity underpins many of these benefits and changes to the diversity of natural systems may alter their ability to supply key services.
Transitioning to low-carbon living is likely to affect how key services are supplied, with potential positive and negative impacts on wellbeing. Green areas and parks will potentially increase in importance as they provide cooling (e.g., shading from trees, cooling effects of lakes and fountains) as summers get warmer with climate change
There is therefore a need to fully understand how ecosystem services and the biodiversity that underpins them are currently delivered to cities; and to explore how these might change in a low-carbon, resource secure future. It is also important to explore how natural systems can play a (vital) role in successfully delivering these future cities.