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Natural capital and environmental justice: A socio-spatial analysis of ecosystem services in England

Mullin, Karen (2019) Natural capital and environmental justice: A socio-spatial analysis of ecosystem services in England. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Poorer communities tend to be located within lower quality natural environments, experiencing greater environmental burdens and fewer benefits. These environmental benefits are critical for human health and wellbeing and can be effectively conveyed as ecosystem services derived from natural capital. This thesis presents a multiscale spatial analysis in England which addresses a knowledge gap regarding the social distribution of ecosystem services and natural capital assets in a high-income country context. Understanding how equally natural capital and ecosystem services are distributed is important for informing their equitable management, required by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Nationally, differences in deprivation are found across a natural capital classification of districts. Higher deprivation is often associated with a lower natural capital, but the pattern is not consistent for all types of natural capital or places. This implies equitable management of ecosystems should be driven at a local level. To realise this, case study analysis is needed and is carried out for three regions; Leeds, Northampton and the South Pennines. Analysis addresses three ecosystem services, thus accounting for the flows of benefits from natural capital including from assets outside the district boundaries. The distribution of air pollutant removal is unequal across all regions; service is lower for more deprived areas. Ecosystem services are also lower for more deprived areas in Leeds with respect to surface water runoff reduction, and in Northampton with respect to recreation. Indicating their social distribution is location dependent. Sensitivity tests further show that that social distribution of ecosystem services may depend on how they are quantified. This thesis provides evidence of some inequalities in the social distribution of ecosystem services, emphasising the need to better account for inequalities within management of natural capital. The mixed results demonstrate a need for further distributional analysis of ecosystem services encompassing more locations and services.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: natural capital, ecosystem services, deprivation, environmental inequality, social justice
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.789466
Depositing User: Dr Karen Mullin
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 11:59
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25138

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