Editors Choice in Landscape and Urban Planning – Article on Ecosystem Services and Plan Quality

An article authored by my PhD student, Sierra Woodruff, and I has recently been chosen as editor’s choice for the current volume of Landscape and Urban Planning!

From the abstract:

Ecosystem services are a powerful tool for land-use and environmental planning, which can help decision makers better understand the tradeoffs between different development scenarios. However, there is limited guidance about how ecosystem services should be used in the land- use and environmental planning context. While existing plan quality guidance for sustainability recognizes benefits of ecosystems by promoting conservation and green infrastructure, it fails to provide specific direction on the type of ecosystem service information to collect and how it should be incorporated into land-use planning processes. We explore this gap by using criteria from American Planning Association (APA) Sustaining Places guidance to analyze two comprehensive plans: Damascus, Oregon, which uses ecosystem services as an organizing framework, and Cincinnati, Ohio, which has received recognition for advancing the science and art of planning. In addition, we compare the extent to which the plans incorporate ecosystem services (both concepts and language) into their goal setting, fact base, policies, and public participation process. We find that incorporating ecosystem services into land-use planning may help achieve sustainability goals by elevating the importance of conservation and providing a lens to link multiple community objectives. APA rewards these attributes of Damascus’ plan, but fails to identify the plan’s strong ecosystem service strategies or weak analysis of ecosystem service information. Based on these findings, we propose additional metrics to help practitioners incorporate ecosystem services into comprehensive plans.

Many thanks to the Editors, Drs. Joan Nassauer and Wei-Ning Xiang!