Cultural ecosystem service assessment of urban and peri-urban forests for increasing resilience of socio-ecological transformations toward sustainability – participatory spatial-systems approaches in two Indonesian cities

Project description

In the light of increasing development pressures and climate-induced risks, city governments face the challenge of improving their cities’ resilience. Rapid urbanization, intensive energy use, and natural resource extraction are producing more and more greenhouse gas emissions, further accelerating warming and making cities vulnerable to natural hazards and extreme weather events. As a result, urban ecosystems and air quality are under pressure. The situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected public well-being and slowed economic growth.

Providing a systemic understanding of how society and ecosystems interact can be an important tool to help city governments and policy makers plan appropriate adaptive responses to these disturbances. Knowledge of the complex interconnections between systems, non-linear feedbacks, and cross-scale dynamics underlying their interactions allows policy makers to assess and improve the resilience of a city’s social-ecological systems. This is especially relevant for the co-production of services from natural ecosystems that benefit society.

Urban and peri-urban forests (UPFs), as urban ecosystems, provide important cultural services: They offer space for recreational activities, spiritual and aesthetic experiences, and cognitive development, thus contributing significantly to the physical and mental well-being of the urban population. Because of their intangible nature, the value of UPFs’ cultural services are often underestimated. This is reflected in an unequal distribution of access to and use of UPFs, which further exacerbates health and well-being inequities. This is especially true for the poor, whose needs for cultural services is often neglected in the governance of ecosystem services. Most of the literature on environmental justice addressing equity issues also stresses the importance of distributive justice (sufficientarianism) or equality (egalitarianism) as poor people are the most vulnerable group to neglect of their needs and are often culturally marginalized. This is particularly evident in large cities in developing countries where growth is much faster within a short period compared to large cities in developed countries.

Thus, the aim of this dissertation is to explore how the interactions between society and UPFs, particularly in the context of generating cultural ecosystem services, can help improve cities’ socio-ecological resilience, using case studies in the two Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Bandung. This research uses spatial and system dynamics modeling for cultural services mapping, key driving factors identification for policies to support a more equitable distribution of cultural benefits from UPFs, and alternative scenario evaluation in regards to resilient transformation pathway for both society and ecosystems.

Administrative data

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald
Advisor: Dr. rer. nat. Somidh Saha
Doctoral students at ITAS: see Doctoral studies at ITAS


Irvanu Rahman, M.P.A.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-28331