Inequity in nature's contributions to people in Ōtautahi/ Christchurch: A low-density post-earthquake city

Daniel Richards, Maksym Polyakov, Angela J. Brandt, Jo Cavanagh, Gradon Diprose, Grace Milner, John V. Ramana, Robyn Simcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nature's contributions to people (NCP) include the regulating, material, and non-material benefits of urban vegetation that improve well-being. It is increasingly important to plan cities that provide multiple types of NCP equitably to all residents of the city. However, due to historical legacies and planning policies, it is common for the most socially and economically vulnerable urban residents to suffer reduced access to the benefits of urban ecosystems. Previous studies of urban NCP have drawn attention to inequity in one or several types of NCP, but few have analysed a broad range. Here we analysed inequity in nine diverse forms of urban NCP across an index of economic and social vulnerability designed specifically to characterise vulnerability to environmental pressures. Furthermore, we used spatial analysis to map co-variance in vulnerability and a composite indicator of urban NCP, thus highlighting priority regions for future investments in green infrastructure. We applied this approach to the city of Christchurch/ Ōtautahi in Aotearoa/ New Zealand, which provides a valuable case study due to its multicultural population and recent history of widespread damage and regeneration following the 2011 earthquake. Overall, the distribution of urban NCP is inequitable to the disadvantage of more vulnerable residents. Residents of more vulnerable neighbourhoods experienced reduced provision of carbon stock, runoff retention, air quality enhancement, shade, educational green space, public outdoor space accessibility, private green space, and bird biodiversity contributions. Conversely, more vulnerable neighbourhoods had greater provision of erosion mitigation (although negligible in magnitude). The wide range of indicators used and assessed in response to vulnerability, coupled with an assessment of the type of vegetation cover (i.e. grass, tall trees) provides greater insights into how inequities in urban NCP can be addressed in future redevelopment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128044
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Cite this