Co-designing future urban and peri-urban forests to maximize ecosystem services and socio-ecological resilience

Project description

The last seven years have been the warmest years on record, according to NASA. As the July 2021 floods in Europe showed, unexpected extreme hydro-meteorological events are becoming more frequent due to climate change. The development of nature-based solutions (NbS) is therefore becoming increasingly important to counter the effects of climate change on cities.

This research aims to develop NbS to increase the socio-ecological resilience of urban and peri-urban forests (UPFs) in response to climate change. While ecosystem services from UPFs provide ecosystem benefits to people and contribute to tackling climate change, which is where the potential of NbS for urban challenges lies, UPFs can also have negative impacts on the city due to trade-offs between the ecosystem services they provide.

By quantifying four ecosystem services using i-Tree Hydro and i-Tree Eco, their benefits will be thoroughly analyzed to provide information for improving urban forest management. Criteria and indicators for social-ecological resilience will be developed and expert interviews and questionnaires will be used to analyze stakeholder perceptions and develop strategies to promote their engagement in enhancing social-ecological resilience.

Based on a structured literature review on NbS for forest management and data collection on implemented NbS in Karlsruhe and other cities, new NbS will be suggested to reduce trade-offs and increase synergies within ecosystem services. In addition, a project seminar on improving the existing typology of urban green space in Karlsruhe is planned for spring 2023.

The thesis addresses the following objectives:

  1. Quantify provisioning, supporting, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services.
  2. Develop NbS to mitigate climate change impacts, increase adaptive capacity and multi-functionality of forests.
  3. Analyze stakeholder perceptions and develop strategies to stimulate their engagement in transforming existing UPFs into more resilient social-ecological systems in German and Korean cities.

Administrative data

Supervisor: Dr. Somidh Saha
Advisor: Prof. Caroline Kramer (BGU), Armin Grunwald, Sebastian Schmidtlein (IfGG)
Doctoral students at ITAS: see Doctoral studies at ITAS


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

Tel.: +49 721 608-24871