Urban horticulture and ecosystem services: challenges and opportunities for greening design and management

Federica Larcher, Marco Devecchi, Luca Battisti, Monica Vercelli [Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Turin]

The urbanization and land consuming, together with the growth of people living in and around cities, enhanced the need to take care of the quality of the urban environment. Horticulture plays an important role in this contest, defining what, where and how plants must be used in order to provide a multiple range of services for the society.
Ecosystem services are defined as the benefits that humans derive from ecosystems. The aim of the paper is to debate on the application of the ecosystem services (Provisioning, Supporting, Regulating, and Cultural) approach in urban horticulture, discussing on challenges and opportunities for future sustainable urban greening design and management. The authors offer an overview of the main concepts and issues under discussion. In particular, studies carried out in the developed Countries, done in urban contests, with attention to the green infrastructure and discussing selected ecosystem services were analysed.
Examples of recent researches are reported, demonstrating the multifunctional role of urban green areas in providing food, biodiversity, pollination, climate change mitigation, water management, air quality, education and well-being. Guidelines for planning and design urban greening are suggested.

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