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    Review of 'Publicly available data sources to compile an urban natural capital account according to the SEEA EEA: A London case study'

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    Publicly available data sources to compile an urban natural capital account according to the SEEA EEA: A London case studyCrossref
    Detailed assessment of data sources for London, UK
    Average rating:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of importance:
        Rated 3 of 5.
    Level of validity:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of completeness:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 4 of 5.
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    Publicly available data sources to compile an urban natural capital account according to the SEEA EEA: A London case study

     Emily Northridge,  Mikaël Maes (corresponding) ,  Ben Milligan (2020)
    Government organisations and other public sector bodies are compiling standardised environmental accounts to encourage more sustainable land use choices and improve management of the natural environment and associated benefits. While the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem accounting (SEEA EEA) provides such as framework, practical challenges remain in particular decision-making contexts. In urban areas, natural ecosystems have unique challenges because of anthropogenic pressures, providing a mix of ecosystem services (ES) that may be valued differently compared to non-urban natural ecosystems due to peoples proximity to these. It is unknown whether existing publicly available data sources for urban areas are compatible with the SEEA EEA framework and if these sources are sufficient for the development of an inclusive natural capital accounts. Here, we explore whether an inclusive urban natural capital account that includes a broad range of ES can be compiled from publicly available data sources for Greater London between 2007 and 2018. We showed that it was not possible to compile an inclusive urban natural capital account for London per year consistent with the SEEA EEA framework because of issues with (1) temporal inconsistencies, (2) land cover classifications and (3) lack of public access to certain data sources. Greater collaboration between institutions and other organisations could support our understanding of linkages between ecosystem extent, condition and ES flows. Overall, our findings suggest the need for renewed efforts to develop a cohesive source of publicly available data, which could be supported by making interdisciplinary work standard practise.
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      Review information

      10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-LIFE.A5CVPE.v1.RBAAAP

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

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      Review text

      This article is a valuable contribution to the literature on ecosystem accounting for urban areas, particularly in light of the recent acceptance of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting as an international standard. It includes an inventory of publicly available datasets and assesses their suitability for ecosystem accounting for London, UK.

      The authors provide a useful identification of datasets on extent, condition and services that could be used to develop accounts for London, but also highlight the significant gaps and limitations in topical coverage and temporal resolution. They identified challenges in integrating these data sets into annual accounting tables, given temporal and spatial incompatibilities between sources. Their findings highlights some of the challenges faced by researchers, National Statistical Organizations and others to develop integrated ecosystem accounts. The authors’ conclusions and identified next steps, which focus on improving publicly available data sources, standards and improved an improved interdisciplinary focus, seem justified.

      One area that was not examined by this study and that might be a focus of future work, might be methods or practices that can be used to integrate these disparate data sources and/or how to apply modeling to improve the gaps with existing information. As a starting point, a table that integrates the best quality data from the inventory for a given year might help show what is/is not available and help clarify which data (extent, condition, services) are most needed. Alternatively, an identification of policy needs that could serve to prioritize data development for London.

      The paper is clearly written.

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