Greening urban road verges highlights diverse views of multiple stakeholders on ecosystem service provision, challenges and preferred form

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Abstract

Globally, there is growing recognition of the potential of road verges to contribute to urban greening and ecosystem service provision, beyond their original functions of utility provision and public access. Numerous, diverse stakeholders are involved in their management, yet their shared and diverging perspectives on verge greening are poorly understood. This research examined the perspectives on road verge greening by 30 respondents from eight stakeholder groups from the Perth Metropolitan Area, Australia. Stakeholders spanned local and state governments, developers, peak bodies, utility providers, environmental consultants, verge treatment providers and urban greening advocates. Semi-directed interviews and Likert scales were used to assess respondents' perspectives and perceived importance of urban verge functions and ecosystem services, risks and challenges associated with verge greening, and preferred verge vegetation composition. The most important ecosystem services for all stakeholders were temperature regulation (through the provision of street trees), those associated with water management and aesthetically interesting streetscapes. Perceived challenges included limited knowledge for the management of native species verges and streetscapes, organisational costs for verge managers and utility providers, and the need to engage with multiple local government authorities with widely varying management and financial valuation of verge vegetation. Stakeholders’ preferred verge reflected diverse uses, local characteristics, and was climate and water resilient (particularly ‘waterwise’). A majority of stakeholder groups felt greater attention to the ‘understorey’ of the ‘urban forest’ was warranted. An emerging perspective across four stakeholder groups identified the potential for verges to grow a local ‘sense of place’, through plantings emphasising local native species and highlighting local Whadjuk Noongar seasons. These findings support policies and programmes associated with urban greening, and assist in navigating the contestation often associated with new or transformative uses of land at the public-private interface.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127625
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Volume74
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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