When we talk about natural capital, it is interesting to reflect on the potential of urban agriculture, a phenomenon which is spreading in metropolitan areas around the world and whose benefits have not been fully investigated. Recently the magazine Earth’s Future published some research carried out by an international team, coordinated by Arizona State University. For the first time, potential returns have been explored in terms of ecosystem services resulting from the widespread adoption of agricultural practices in cities. This was made possible by mapping satellite images from Google Earth’s satellite images, cross-linked with demographic and meteorological data.
A tool for sustainability.
Food production is not the only benefit of urban agriculture: researchers have identified a number of other positive effects, such as reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing rainwater run-off, nitrogen fixation, pest control and energy saving. The economic value of these benefits has been estimated at $160 billion a year on a global scale. This is a significant amount which has prompted researchers to encourage local administrators and urban planners to take urban agriculture seriously as a potential tool for sustainable supply chains and environmental policies.