Publication Details

Beyond 'trees are good': Disservices, management costs, and tradeoffs in urban forestry

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Roman, Lara A.; Conway, Tenley M.; Eisenman, Theodore S.; Koeser, Andrew K.; Ordóñez Barona, Camilo ; Locke, Dexter H.; Jenerette, G. Darrel; Östberg, Johan ; Vogt, Jess

Year Published

2020

Publication

Ambio

Abstract

The provision of ecosystem services is a prominent rationale for urban greening, and there is a prevailing mantra that 'trees are good'. However, understanding how urban trees contribute to sustainability must also consider disservices. In this perspective article, we discuss recent research on ecosystem disservices of urban trees, including infrastructure conflicts, health and safety impacts, aesthetic issues, and environmentally detrimental consequences, as well as management costs related to ecological disturbances and risk management. We also discuss tradeoffs regarding species selection and local conservation concerns, as well as the central role of human perception in the interpretation of ecosystem services and disservices, particularly the uncritical assertion that 'everybody loves trees'. Urban forestry decision-making that fails to account for disservices can have unintended negative consequences for communities. Further research is needed regarding life cycle assessments, stakeholder decision-making, return-on-investment, and framings of services and disservices in urban forestry.

Keywords

Ecosystem disservices; Green infrastructure; Negative synergies; Positive synergies; Urban ecosystems; Urban sustainability

Citation

Roman, Lara A.; Conway, Tenley M.; Eisenman, Theodore S.; Koeser, Andrew K.; Ordóñez Barona, Camilo; Locke, Dexter H.; Jenerette, G. Darrel; Östberg, Johan; Vogt, Jess. 2020. Beyond ‘trees are good’: Disservices, management costs, and tradeoffs in urban forestry. Ambio. 21: 183. 16 p. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01396-8.

Last updated on: October 22, 2020