Semi-natural vegetation and its relationship to designated urban green space at the landscape scale in Leeds, UK

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Abstract

The species composition of semi-natural vegetation in urban areas is influenced by a diversity of factors operating at a variety of spatial scales. This study investigates relationships at the landscape scale between species numbers of semi-natural plant communities and variations in the nature of designated urban green space. Species' records were obtained from a survey of tetrads (2 km × 2 km) across a contiguous central area of built-up landscape and nearby satellite settlements in the metropolitan borough of Leeds, northern England. Plant species were categorised into natives, archaeophytes, neophytes, casuals and conservation-designated species. The type and extent of designated urban green space within a tetrad was determined using GIS. There was more built-up and designated green space area in the central urban area than in the satellite settlements. However, this difference was not reflected statistically significantly in plant category species' numbers. Numbers of native species correlated positively with areas of green space designated for relatively high nature conservation value. Neophytes and casuals correlated positively with semi-natural green space lacking rare native species or high native species richness but designated principally for local community accessibility. The value of such spaces and the importance of their appropriate management, not only for community benefits like individual physical health and mental well-being, but also for overall urban plant biodiversity, is highlighted.

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