Climate change, Economics, Latest, Natural resource management, Water

375. Do urban parks have to be watered?

With rainfall in Perth having fallen significantly over the past 50 years, local and state governments are wondering about one of their major uses for water: irrigation of urban parks. PhD student Claire Doll is doing a series of studies to understand public attitudes about this and to analyse what it might mean for park managers. The first of these studies has just been published in the Journal of Environmental Management

There is free access to the final version of the paper (no need for a subscription) until 10 June 2022. Click here.

Here is the abstract for the paper:

Climate change is forcing cities to reassess their water management practices, particularly for water-intensive applications like park irrigation. If water scarcity requires governments to deviate from current park management norms and allocate less water towards parks, it is essential that park managers design spaces that maintain community wellbeing. We apply the hedonic pricing method and use detailed park management information to assess the value of parks in a region where local climatic conditions require extensive irrigation to keep turf green, and where climate change is further constraining water supplies. Here we show that the impacts of irrigation on the value of parks differ depending on the dwelling types of the nearby housing populations that they serve. In most cases, the convention that parks have to be irrigated to deliver ecosystem services to the public is supported. However, we find that non-irrigated park areas are also valued positively by nearby apartment dwellers. Accelerating rates of urbanization and shifts towards high-density living may support the development of more diverse park options that are less water-intensive. Increased visibility of these alternative park forms, which could include more areas of native vegetation that do not require irrigation, may subsequently influence public expectations for landscape design.

Further reading

Doll, C., Polyakov, M., Pannell, D.J. and Burton, M.P. (2022). Rethinking urban park irrigation under climate change, Journal of Environmental Management 314, 115012. Journal web page