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Research article2017Peer reviewed

A bottom-up approach to map land covers as potential green infrastructure hubs for human well-being in rural settings: A case study from Sweden

Elbakidze, Marine; Angelstam, Per; Yamelynets, Taras; Dawson, Lucas; Gebrehiwot, Mersha; Stryamets, Nataliya; Johansson, Karl-Erik; Garrido, Pablo; Naumov, Vladimir; Manton, Michael


Green infrastructure (GI) policy encourages the spatial planning of natural and semi-natural areas to deliver biodiversity conservation and a wide range of ecosystem services (ES) important to human well-being. Much of the current literature relies on expert-led and top-down processes to investigate connections between landscapes' different land covers and ES. Little is known regarding the preferences of residents, and how they connect land covers with the delivery of ES important for their well-being. The aim of this study is to identify and locate such land cover types as GI that provide multiple ES important for human well-being in rural settings. First, we interviewed 400 urban and rural residents to identify ES important for personal well-being and the land covers that deliver multiple ES in three counties that best represent the existing rural-urban gradient in Sweden. Second, to support the inclusion of GI in spatial planning, we identified and located spatial concentrations of individual land covers providing multiple ES (GI hubs) and significant clusters of such land covers (GI hotspots). The majority of urban and rural respondents associated their well-being with lakes, mountains above the tree line, old-growth forests, wooded-pastures, mature pine forests and rural farmsteads. The areal proportion of each type of hub was low, on average 3.5%. At least three land management strategies are needed to sustain GI hubs: maintenance of the composition, structure and function of natural ecosystems in protected areas; support for traditional agroforestry and villages as social-ecological systems; and diversification of the current intensive forest management approach.


Ecosystem services; Spatial planning; Agroforestry; Protected area; Mature forests

Published in

Landscape and Urban Planning
2017, Volume: 168, pages: 72-83

      SLU Authors

                  • Sustainable Development Goals

                    SDG15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
                    SDG11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
                    SDG3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

                    UKÄ Subject classification

                    Landscape Architecture
                    Physical Geography

                    Publication identifier


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