New research from collaboration between Arizona State University (ASU) and Google provides an assessment of the value of urban agriculture and the benefits it provides on a global scale.
“For the first time, we have a data-driven approach that quantifies the ecosystem benefits from urban agriculture. Our estimates of ecosystem services show potential for millions of tons of food production, thousands of tons of nitrogen sequestration, billions of kilowatt hours of energy savings and billions of cubic meters of avoided storm runoff from agriculture in urban areas,” said Matei Georgescu, an ASU associate professor.
Using the Google Earth Engine, the researchers analyzed global population, urban, meteorological, terrain, and Food and Agricultural Organization datasets to arrive at their global scale estimates – and then aggregated them by country. The estimated value of four ecosystems services resulting from existing vegetation in urban areas was found to be roughly $33 billion. This includes a projected annual food production of 100 to 180 million tons and energy savings of 14-15 billion kilowatt-hours.