The urban political ecology of ecosystem services: The case of Barcelona

Yaella Depietri, Giorgos Kallis, Francesc Baró, Claudio Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper advances two arguments. First, the liveability of modern cities depends to a large extent upon urban and peri-urban ecosystems and their services. Second, these services are not only a gift of nature, but co-produced by human labour. Ecosystem services, in other words, are not just natural; they are also the outcome of historical, political, economic and social endeavours. We support our case with a study of the city of Barcelona and the adjacent Collserola Natural Park. Through an inter-disciplinary project combining biophysical, historical, and archival research, interviews and activist research we show that, first, the liveability of Barcelona highly improves because of the services provided by the ecosystem of Collserola. Second, that Collserola was not originally a pristine forest; it became one after agricultural abandonment institutional interventions and the action of social movements. If ecosystem services are co-produced by human action, and social struggles, as we argue is the case of Collserola, then this has implications for the ways ecological economists think about ecosystem services, their value and valuation. Whereas the social production of ecosystem services may seem an obvious and intuitive idea, it certainly challenges the foundational aspects of monetary valuation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-100
Number of pages18
JournalEcological Economics
StatePublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Ecosystem services
  • Political ecology
  • Social movements
  • Urban areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'The urban political ecology of ecosystem services: The case of Barcelona'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this