Assessing the drivers shaping global patterns of urban vegetation landscape structure

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Aug 15;592:171-177. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.058. Epub 2017 Mar 17.


Vegetation is one of the main resources involve in ecosystem functioning and providing ecosystem services in urban areas. Little is known on the landscape structure patterns of vegetation existing in urban areas at the global scale and the drivers of these patterns. We studied the landscape structure of one hundred cities around the globe, and their relation to demography (population), socioeconomic factors (GDP, Gini Index), climate factors (temperature and rain) and topographic characteristics (altitude, variation in altitude). The data revealed that the best descriptors of landscape structure were amount, fragmentation and spatial distribution of vegetation. Populated cities tend to have less, more fragmented, less connected vegetation with a centre of the city with low vegetation cover. Results also provided insights on the influence of socioeconomics at a global scale, as landscape structure was more fragmented in areas that are economically unequal and coming from emergent economies. This study shows the effects of the social system and climate on urban landscape patterns that gives useful insights for the distribution in the provision of ecosystem services in urban areas and therefore the maintenance of human well-being. This information can support local and global policy and planning which is committing our cities to provide accessible and inclusive green space for all urban inhabitants.

Keywords: Climate; GDP; Gini Index; Landscape metrics; Socio-ecological systems; Urban ecology; Urban ecosystems.

MeSH terms

  • Cities*
  • Climate*
  • Demography
  • Ecosystem*
  • Humans
  • Plants*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*