Carbon sequestration through urban ecosystem services: A case study from Finland

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Plants and soil are natural regulators of atmospheric CO2. Whereas plants sequester atmospheric carbon, soils deposit it for decades. As cities become increasingly more densely built, the available land area for such ecosystem services may decrease. We studied seven different housing areas in the Finnish city of Espoo to ascertain the extent to which site efficiency affects to the ecosystem services if the full life-cycle GHG emissions of these areas are taken into account. The results show that the impact of CO2 uptake through carbon sinks in growing plants and the uptake of soil organic carbon vary greatly. Its share of all emissions varied from a marginal value of 1.2% to a more considerable value of 11.9%. The highest potential was calculated for a detached house located on a large site, while the weakest was calculated for compact apartment blocks. The study revealed that in order to quantify this potential more accurately, several knowledge gaps must first be addressed. These include impartial growth algorithms for Nordic wood species, missing accumulation factors for soil organic carbon in cold climates and statistical maintenance scenarios for gardens.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-632
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Carbonation, CO2 uptake, Ecosystem services, Greenhouse gas emissions, Life cycle, NZEB, Residential, Soil organic carbon

ID: 6777605