Urban vegetation loss and ecosystem services: The influence on climate regulation and noise and air pollution

Urban vegetation loss and ecosystem services: The influence on climate regulation and noise and air pollution

Accepted Manuscript Urban vegetation loss and ecosystem services: The influence on climate regulation and noise and air pollution Roberta Mendonça De ...

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Accepted Manuscript Urban vegetation loss and ecosystem services: The influence on climate regulation and noise and air pollution Roberta Mendonça De Carvalho, Claudio Fabian Szlafsztein PII:

S0269-7491(18)30565-7

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.10.114

Reference:

ENPO 11805

To appear in:

Environmental Pollution

Received Date: 20 July 2018 Revised Date:

22 October 2018

Accepted Date: 27 October 2018

Please cite this article as: De Carvalho, Roberta.Mendonç., Szlafsztein, C.F., Urban vegetation loss and ecosystem services: The influence on climate regulation and noise and air pollution, Environmental Pollution (2018), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.10.114. This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final form. Please note that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.

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VEGETATION COVERAGE LOSS

ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT URBAN VEGETATION LOSS AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: THE INFLUENCE ON CLIMATE REGULATION AND NOISE AND AIR POLLUTION

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Roberta Mendonça De Carvalho1*, Claudio Fabian Szlafsztein2

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Department of Geography, University of Florida, 3141 Turlington Hall, 330 Newell Dr, Gainesville, FL, 32601, USA 2

Núcleo de Meio Ambiente, Universidade Federal do Pará, Rua Augusto Correa, 01, Guamá, 66075-110, Belém, Pará, Brazil

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*Corresponding author: [email protected]; 1-517-455-8335

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Ecosystem services are present everywhere, green vegetation coverage (or green areas) is one of the primary sources of ecosystem services considering urban areas sustainability and peoples urban life quality. Urban vegetation cover loss decreases the capacity of nature to provision ecosystem services; the loss of urban vegetation is also observed within the Amazon. This study aims at identifying urban vegetation loss and relate it to the provision of ecosystem services of reduction of air quality, reduction of air pollution, and climate regulation. Urban vegetation coverage loss was calculated using NDVI on LANDSAT 5 imagery over a 23-year period from 1986 to 2009. NDVI thresholds were arbitrarily selected, and complemented by in locus observation, to establish guidelines for quantitative (area) and qualitative (density) evolution of green cover, divided in six different categories, named as water, bare soil, poor vegetation, moderate vegetation, dense vegetation and very dense vegetation. Data on air pollution, noise pollution and temperature were outsourced from previous works. Measurement show a significant loss of very dense, dense and moderate vegetation coverage and an increase in poor vegetation and bare soil areas, in accordance to increase in air and noise pollution, and local temperature, and provides positive refashions between the loss of urban green coverage and decrease in ecosystem services.

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KEYWORDS: Ecosystem services, environmental services, urban area, vegetation coverage, green coverage, green area, urban sustainability.

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The issue of climate change as critical to Earth’s survival is responsible for expanding the strategic role of the Amazon region in all spheres - local, national and international (Fearnside 2012). In this context, there is a notable redirection of approaches for environmental preservation and sustainable use of natural resources, calling for protection and appraisal of services provided by nature.

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According to Bastian, Haase, and Grunewald (2011), the concept of Environmental or Ecosystem Services emerged back in the 1960s as the benefits that nature provides humanity and essential to the maintenance of life; however, it was first introduced to the international discussion on environmental issues in the 1990s, with the book Nature’s Service: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems (Daily 1997). Then ecosystem service was defined as “the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystem, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life. The most comprehensive classification of environmental services identifies 17 main groups of services, functions, and examples (Costanza et al. 1997).

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Ecosystem services are present everywhere, including in urban areas. At first glance, nature's services could commonly be linked to forest environments, or to surroundings dominated by natural biomes (Fearnside 2008). Nonetheless, this does not exclude the increasingly growing and crowded urban areas (Bolund and Hunhammar 1999) amid the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil.

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Despite the influential role of urbanization processes on the surrounding spaces as a vector of environmental disturbance, cities can be part of solutions to the environmental crises if we consider clusters of high density of people as a synonym to more efficient land use and energy consumption; at the same time, as a sign of more effective exploitation of natural resources and improved ecosystem conservation elsewhere (Van Der Waals 2000). However, if cities can provide less environmental disturbance elsewhere, the quality of urban environments must be considered and improved. The presence of urban trees and its ecosystem services contributes to achieving that goal, despite a worldwide tendency of loss of vegetation (Elmqvist et al. 2013; Nagendra et al. 2013).

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The importance of trees and green areas to environmental health goes beyond forest preservation and breaches the cities’ boundaries. Some studies linking ecosystem services to urban areas have identified the significant role of the urban forest, urban trees or urban vegetation to the provision of vital ecosystem services (Bolund and Hunhammar 1999; E. Gregory McPherson et al. 1997; Grove et al. 2013; Nagendra and Gopal 2010; Brondízio and Roy Chowdhury 2010). Thus, the role of trees is stretched from the forest into the city.

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The city of Belém, capital of the State of Pará, in Brazil is one of Amazonia’s largest urbanized conglomerates, a colonial town dating back to 16th century that has seen a significant population increase in the last 50 years and now struggles to find a balance between land occupation, demographic concentration, and a healthy urban environment.

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Although its central area is fully urbanized, additional spatial transformation continues to shrink natural ecosystems all over and within the Belem Metropolitan Region (BMR) where satellite images and studies attest significant loss of urban vegetation from the mid-1980s (Mercês 1997; Rodrigues and Luz 2007). In particular, Leão et al. (2008) point at 36.5 km² of urban forest loss between 1986 and 2006 in BMR.

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INTRODUCTION

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To better understand spatial changes taking place in the city of Belém concerning the loss of urban vegetation, this study identifies the spatial and temporal distribution of vegetation coverage from 1986 to 2009. Besides, relates the results to the provision of urban ecosystem services of reduction of noise pollution, reduction of air pollution, and climate regulation.

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MATERIALS AND METHODS

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2.1 STUDY AREA

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Three out of eight administrative districts of the city of Belém represent its most central area and the study site, DABEL, DASAC, and DAGUA (Belém 2008). They comprise 21 neighborhoods, covering 42.7 km² and comprise over 750 thousand people, 50% of the city’s population (Table 1) (Figure 1). DABEL encompasses the starting point of the city in 1616, with central and older neighborhoods that include downtown, with 10% of the city population and the lowest density of all three areas. DAGUA is the most populous district with almost 25% of the city’s population and the highest density among studied sites. Overall, DASAC had a later occupation, and current population 18% of city’s total (Belém 2008; IBGE 2012).

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Table 1. Characteristics of Districts of Study Area District DABEL DAGUA DASAC

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Source: (Belém 2008; IBGE 2010)

Neighborhoods 8 6 6

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Area (Km ) 13.7 14 15

Population 144,948 342,742 256,641

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Figure 1. Study Area - Country, State, City and Districts

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2.2 METHODS To identify spatiotemporal changes in urban vegetation coverage in three administrative districts of Belém, the time series analysis comprises the years of 1986, 1993, 2001, and 2009, and named periods 1, 2, 3 and four respectively. Under

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the realm of this work, “vegetation coverage” is understood as the green vegetated area that is directly detectable by remote sensing techniques (Purevdorj et al. 1998) and assumes as a synonym the terms green coverage and green area. Single imageries from each of the years measured were downloaded from the Landsat TM5 project (path 64; row 63), available at United States Geological Survey (www.glovis.usgs.gov) were selected for each of the years based on the minimum cloud cover possible. Imageries were radiometrically calibrated and corrected for atmospheric and classified using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as spectral enhancement function. NDVI values range from -1 to 1, where no vegetation gives values less than and closer to zero. Values closer to +1 indicate highest density of vegetation. 4 − 3 − = = 4 + 3 +

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Where: NDVI= Normalized difference vegetation index NIR= near infra-red reflectance R= red reflectance

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Considering the lack of explicit training sample, this work relied on NDVI results as another layer of information while using a threshold technique, previously discussed as an approach that can be used to understand landscape configurations (Jensen 2015). As the primary objective was to identify loss of urban vegetation cover, range of NDVI (thresholds) were established as approximate boundaries, giving the limitation in identifying exact boundaries without training samples, as they vary over time and space, especially over time due to climate background, soil moisture, and other atmospheric conditions. The proposed thresholds values that compose the range for each of the covers represent arbitrary divisions that were established based on the fact that there is a gradient of NDVI results expressing vegetation, and it gets denser when high values towards 0.8 are observed, and the acknowledge that to thresholds values to establish land cover classification is not static.

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Table 2. NDVI Assigned Thresholds Range

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Conventionally, the established thresholds to identify six different ranges of NDVI outcomes were named to represent an approximate identification to a land cover type as water, bare soil, poor vegetation, moderate vegetation, dense vegetation and very dense vegetation (Table 2).

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NDVI range <= 0.0 > 0.0 < 0.15 >= 0.15 < 0.30 >= 0.30 < 0.45 >= 0.45 < 0.60 >= 0.60

Cover Type Water Bare soil Poor vegetation Moderate vegetation Dense vegetation Very dense vegetation

Map Color Blue Red Yellow Cyan Magenta Dark green

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The relation between the vegetation coverage and the three ecosystem services were assessed using the data provided by:

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Over the years accessed, there was a decrease in vegetation coverage in DABEL, DAGUA, and DASAC in all periods of collected images. All districts present an alarming increase of bare soil and poor vegetation and decrease of moderate, dense and very dense vegetation – a trace of regular patterns within the three areas. Concerning time, results from period 3, 2001, presented the highest changes in all three areas (Santos 2009; Costa 2001; Corrêa 2011) (Figure 2-4).

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The increase in areas of bare soil and poor vegetation correlates to the loss of moderate dense and very dense vegetation. Over time, there is a clear transition of coverages where vegetation is lost, usually gradually replaced by the next less dense coverage. Thus, very dense vegetation areas gradually transform into dense vegetation areas, while dense vegetation area is gradually transformed into moderate vegetation, moderate vegetation is transformed into poor vegetation, and poor vegetation is transformed into bare soil, in a consistent cycle of loss of natural ecosystems.

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In 1986 and 1993, the three districts had less than 2% of bare soil. In the following period 3, the portion of bare soil starts to differ, and DABEL presents the highest increase. In period 4, DABEL expands to impressive 20% of bare soil, followed by DASAC 16%, and DAGUA 6%. The overall increase in bare soil percentage in DABEL, DASAC, and DAGUA, from periods 1 to 4 was 18%, 15%, and 5%, respectively.

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Poor Vegetation

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In period 1, DABEL had the most extensive area covered by poor vegetation (25%), followed by DASAC (14%) and DAGUA (12%). Small changes took place in period 2, and a decrease of around 2% of poor vegetation area was observed in all districts. However, in period 3, poor vegetation areas skyrocket and reached 51% in DABEL, 50% in DASAC 50% and 49% DAGUA. In period 3, poor vegetation in DAGUA, DASAC, and DABEL increased to 62%, 55%, and 52%, respectively. During the assessed periods 1 to 4, the overall increase in poor vegetation was 27% in DABEL, 41% in DASAC and 40% in DAGUA. It can be noted that, while DABEL initially had the highest area of poor vegetation, it suffered the lowest percentage increase in this same coverage.

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Moderate Vegetation

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Moderate vegetation had different patterns compared to bare soil and poor vegetation. Initially, DABEL had 37%, DAGUA 34% and DASAC 29% of moderate coverage. Period 2 showed an increase in this coverage by 4%, 14% and 11%,

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RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

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a. Noise pollution - The Belém Acoustic Map (Moraes 2010; Moraes and Nara 2004) – decibels level for 18 of the total of 21 neighborhoods comprising the three administrative districts. b. Air pollution - Bolund and Hunhammar's (1999) and McPherson et al. (1997) estimates that one ha. of mixed urban forest can remove 15 t/year of particles of air pollutant component studying Stockholm and Chicago. This study will consider mixed forest as the sum of the area of dense and very dense vegetation classes. c. Climate regulation - Temperature data from 1997 and 2008 adopted from other studies were grouped according to the administrative districts of Belém (Castro 2009; Corrêa 2011; Costa 2001; Santos 2009).

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respectively, most probably due to the transformation of very dense and dense vegetation. By period 2, DAGUA had almost 50% of its territory with a moderate urban green coverage. The following period 3 shows that a drastic decrease takes place in all three districts. In the last period 4, DABEL and DASAC had only 17% of moderate vegetation, while DAGUA had 22%. DABEL was the district with highest of moderate vegetation loss, 20% in total, and both DAGUA and DASAC lost 12% of moderate vegetation along the 23-year period.

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Dense Vegetation

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A familiar pattern of intensive loss of dense vegetation throughout the years in all three areas can be observed. In the transition from period 1 to 2, DAGUA lost 7% of the area with dense vegetation, reducing from 28% to 21%. Significant loss of green coverage overall marked period 3, and the same district had its dense vegetation reduced to 9%. In the final period pointed to DABEL and DASAC with 6% of dense vegetation areas and DAGUA 5%. The total dense vegetation during the four periods reduced by 23% in DAGUA, 18% in DABEL, and 17% in DASAC.

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Very Dense Vegetation

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In the first period, DASAC had 33% of its area covered by very dense vegetation; DAGUA 25% and DABEL 12%. Very dense vegetation in DASAC decreases to 24% in period 2, DAGUA to 14%, while DABEL remained the same, representing the only district and period with no changes. Period 3 is followed by steep decreases when DABEL reached 5%, DAGUA 6%, and DASAC 13%. The scenario continued to worsen, as the last period registers DABEL and DAGUA with 4% and DASAC 7%. Considering the entire 23-year period, while DABEL had the lowest decrease rate in very dense vegetation (8%), it remained the area with the lowest percentage of this type of coverage; On the other hand, while DASAC started in 1986 with the most extensive very dense vegetation area (33%), it also lost the highest percentage of very dense coverage (26%). DAGUA lost 20%, and the last results point to 4% of its area covered by very dense coverage.

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Similarities and Differences

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Among the three districts, clear similarities are easily identified along with fewer differences. DABEL presented the highest rate of bare soil, followed closely by DASAC and DAGUA. On the other hand, DAGUA had the highest area covered by poor vegetation in the last period (60%). It is worth noticing that the last results point to poor vegetation cover over 50% of the territory in all three districts. Moderate vegetation presents similar loss results, having DAGUA also displaying the highest rate. DAGUA also presents a higher rate for dense vegetation loss, although the difference is quite small across the districts. DAGUA and DASAC had also presented similar results in very dense vegetation coverage.

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Figure 2. DABEL Vegetation Coverage.

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DAGUA1993

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Bare Soil

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Moderate Vegetation Dense Vegetation

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Figure 3. DAGUA Vegetation Coverage.

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Figure 4. DASAC Vegetation Coverage.

Importantly, many of the environmental, and socioeconomic and historical occupation conditions reflect significant differences between the three districts (Cardoso et al., 2007; Lima, 2004). However, the overall loss of vegetation coverage in these districts follows some common patterns for cities in the Amazon region showing a tendency of natural environments degradation with the loss of natural cover (Perz, 2000; Costa and Brondizio, 2011). a. Conflicts derived from legality in tenure and ownership of land. b. The absence of legislation for management and/or urban planning. In many cases, the legal framework exists but is hardly implemented. c. Scarce resources or different priorities for the maintenance of existing vegetation or expansion with new species.

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d. Rapid population growth that demands new areas and is segregated to peripheral zones, away from government actions and oversight. Noise Pollution Regulation

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One of the outcomes of urbanization is the increase in noise pollution at alarming rates. Noise pollution contributes to urban environmental disturbance to the point of affecting human health (Bolund and Hunhammar 1999). Reports by the World Health Organization (2011; 1999) show that exposure to noise can be extremely harmful to humankind, especially if one is exposed to it on a regular basis. Moreover, after air and water pollution, noise pollution is the environmental concern that most affects urban citizens. Health problems caused by noise exposure are innumerous, ranging from mild discomfort and annoyance to heart disease and even mortality. Noise exposure interferes also with psychological and mental performance, adversely affects work efficiency, and disturbs sleep. Noise above 65 dB(A) is considered beyond bearable and beyond 85 dB(A) can cause permanent hearing loss if exposure is continued (Leão et al., 2008).

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Transportation systems elements are among the major contributors to noise pollution, whilst green and natural coverage can help decrease noise pollution (Bolund and Hunhammar 1999). The capacity of noise pollution absorption elevates urban vegetation to even higher importance considering the essential role of transportation systems to urban areas. Nonetheless, to what extent urban green areas can contribute to lowering noise pollution is it still a work in progress (Gidlöf-Gunnarsson and Öhrström 2007; Gómez-Baggethun and Barton 2013; Zannin et al. 2006). One study found that “a dense shrubbery, at least 5 m wide, can reduce noise levels by two dBA and a 50 m wide plantation can lower noises levels by 3-6 dBA” (Naturvardsverket 1996 apud Bolund and Hunhammar 1999). The European Union estimates the overall cost of noise pollution to range from 0.2 to 2% of its GDP (Kommunforbundet apud Bolund and Hunhammar 1999). In local terms, this could represent around R$ 360 million per year (Brazilian Real), based on Belém’s GDP in 2010.

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Concerns about noise rates in Belém are responsible for a significant increase in residents’ complaints, mainly due to vehicle circulation increase (Leão, Alencar, and Veríssimo 2008; Moraes and Nara 2004). Data from the Acoustic Map of Belém was used to establish a local connection between green areas and sound pollution in Belém. The Map measured the noise level in 18 of the 21 neighborhoods of the three administrative districts in 2010.

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Patterns for acceptable urban noise are regulated by Belém municipal Law 7990/2000 and follow the instruction issues by Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT). The recommendation is 50 dB(A) of noise level during daytime hours and 45 dB(A) at night for urban residential areas or other sites that require low noise rates, such as schools and hospitals surroundings. Day and night values of 60 dB(A) and 55 dB(A) are respectively recommended for mixed-purpose areas mostly used by commercial businesses. Inasmuch, maximum industrial zones noise level permitted is 70 dB(A) for the daytime and 60 dB(A) nighttime (ABNT 2003).

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According to the data from Belém Acoustic Map, there were measurements for eight neighborhoods in DABEL, six in DAGUA and four in DASAC. Results indicates that all noise level measures are above the maximum established, and the highest levels are noted in DABEL - the district characterized by the lowest area of very dense

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forest and highest area of bare soil at the last period of this study. DABEL is also home to the commercial center, government buildings and most of the tourist attractions. It presents the lowest population density of all three districts despite being a residential area for 10% of the citizens; However, as a commercial center, DABEL presents a fluctuating population, attracting more people during the day – the period when all the noise measures were collected. DABEL also presented the highest average noise level of the three districts - 72.30 dB(A), and the highest average among all the neighborhoods, 76.88 dB(A), and the highest single measure of 78 dB(A) of the entire Acoustic Map.

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When comparing observations of noise level and districts, all neighborhoods in DASAC presented middle-range results. The second highest bare soil area presents higher noise pollution rates while its larger area with very dense vegetation contributes to lowering decibels. DAGUA is the most populated of the three districts, although it presents the lowest noise rates and the most significant area covered by a combination of dense and very dense vegetation, beyond the smallest area with no vegetation (Figure 5).

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Air Pollution

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The potential of urban trees or shrubs to help reduce air pollution is strongly dependent on tree characteristics such as the canopy, leaf, stomata, size, and tree height (Nowak and Dwyer 2007; Nowak et al. 2006). Trees are so resourceful in removing air pollution that the proximity to pollutant source and pollution concentration can boost trees’ ability to improve air quality. In fact, trees in more polluted industrial zones are more effective at removing air pollutants than trees within better air quality environments (Li et al. 2003). Many studies buttress the pollutant absorption capacity of urban trees and green areas, their effect on air quality, including the assessment of different environments and the rates of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), carbon, ozone, and other pollutants (Li et al. 2003; McPherson and Nowak 1993; Nowak et al. 1996; Nowak et al. 2000; Nowak et al. 2006; Nowak and Greenfield 2012; Pedlowski et al. 2002).

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Bearing in mind the contribution of trees mitigates air pollution, over time, lack of urban green coverage can trigger decrease in air quality. In general, the urbanization process is marked by land cover changes due to the replacement of natural ecosystems by urban structures. In tandem, urban environments are typically characterized by higher numbers of vehicles and their pollutant emissions.

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Considering that one-hectare of mixed urban forest (sum of very dense and dense vegetation coverage) can remove 15 ton of particles of air pollutant component per

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year (Bolund and Hunhammar 1999; Mcpherson et al. 1997), Belém indicates a decrease of air pollutant filtering capacity in the last three decades. In 1986, there was 0.099 ha of mixed forest in DABEL, which decreased to 0.037 ha in 2009. Regarding pollutant absorption, this represents a difference of one ton of fewer pollutants being absorbed in the 23-year period (from 1.35 t to 0.5 t). DAGUA lost 0.077 ha of mixed forest in 23 years, decreasing from 0.121 ha to 0.044 ha. Therefore, in 1986 1.8 ton of pollutants were being absorbed, compared to 0.66 ton in 2009. DASAC mixed urban green coverage decreased from 0.127 ha to 0.0435 from 1986 to 2009, corresponding to a reduction in the absorption rate from 1.9 ton to 0.65 ton. If considering the three administrative districts, the urban green coverage in Belém removed 5.2 tons of air pollutant in 1986. By 2009, absorption decreased to 1.86 tons, and indicates 3.3 tons of pollutants not filtered. All results indicate lower quality of air over time when considering pollutant absorption capacity (Figure ).

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Figure 6. Amount of pollutants absorbed by vegetation coverage in DABEL, DAGUA, and DASAC.

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Records indicate all three districts suffered similar losses of pollutant absorption capacity over the years under study. Along with the more significant loss of vegetation coverage, DASAC experienced the highest negative impact on the quality of urban air. This scenario is supported by a higher increase of bare soil percentage. Moreover, DASAC initially had the most percentage of preserved very dense and dense vegetation areas, but it suffered a significant decrease from 1986 to 2009.

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Climate Regulation

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The influence of urban green coverage on local climate regulation is especially significant due to overall temperature increases within city limits. Among the benefits of urban trees in regulate climate, Bolund and Hunhammar (1999) affirm that a single large tree can transpire 450 liter/day, consuming 1000 megajoules (MJ) of heat in the entire process, what corresponds to approximately 2 Celsius. Trees also contribute to decreasing temperature by shading, and threfore reduce the consumption of electricity when shades reduce the temperature inside buildings (E Gregory McPherson 1994; E. Gregory McPherson et al. 1997)

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Particularly in warmer regions, the phenomena of “urban heat islands" is known mainly as a cause of environmental discomfort and (Cabral 1995; Sousa e Silva and Travassos 2008). In Belém, a city in a tropical area, with a hot and humid climate, average maximum temperature has increase to above 32ºC, and 24ºC of minimum average. With high temperatures all year round and limited daily thermal amplitude, studies indicate an increase in average temperatures since the 1970s and the presence of urban heat islands (Santos 2009; Costa 2001; Corrêa 2011; Silva Júnior et al. 2013).

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Reduto neighborhood, located in DABEL had the higher average temperatures in 2006 (27.5 ºC), followed by Canudos, in DAGUA and Fátima in DASAC, both with 25.5 ºC (COSTA, 2009). Whilst average high records are located in highly urbanized areas, the three neighborhoods that presented the lowest temperatures are in a less urbanized area and outside the study area. Such data corroborate to the argument of Vitorino et al. (2011) about a direct link between urbanized areas and higher temperatures.

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When evaluating the temperature patterns (Figure 7), Reduto represents the higher measurements, confirming the results reported by Santos (2009). This neighborhood was initially a central industrial area that housed many plants and warehouses. Therefore, characterized by densely distributed construction sites, with an extended portion of its area covered by bare soil or poor vegetation. Reduto was among the neighborhoods characterized by the highest temperature in 1997 and became the warmest neighborhood in 2008. In accordance, Reduto presented lower temperatures near the boundaries of neighborhoods of Nazaré and Umarizal, where green urban coverage is more abundant. In fact, these two areas are a part of an urban cool island characterized by more extensive and denser vegetation coverage (such as parks and squares) Castro (2009). Such results are hand in glove with the direct relationships between urban green and lower temperatures. In other words, the highest temperatures in the neighborhoods are related to the lack of vegetation.

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In 2008, DABEL displays five neighborhoods with highest maximum temperatures, DAGUA, four and DASAC, one. These neighborhoods also exhibit the decrease in the difference between the minimum and maximum temperatures, indicating an increasing trend in minimum and maximum temperature averages.

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Figure 7. Temperatures in Belem neighborhoods. Source: Costa (2009).

Overall, temperature increase follows a similar pattern in all three districts, with a higher difference only in DASAC measures from 1997. However, DABEL presents the highest average temperature in both periods, and corroborates to the fact that five among the eight warmest neighborhoods are located within its boundaries. Furthermore, in the case of Belém and the inverse relation between temperature and vegetation coverage, DABEL presents the highest loss of vegetation and the highest area with bare soil in addition to the highest percentage of bare soil and poor vegetation.

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Prior work indicates quantitative and qualitative losses of urban green coverage and decline in the capacity of providing ecosystem service due to reduction of green coverage. The three ecosystem services of air pollution reduction, noise pollution reduction and climate regulation indicate reduction and a positive relation where the higher urban green coverage, the higher the capacity of provisioning these services.

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Vegetation cover loss took place in previously fully urbanized areas in three administrative districts of the city of Belém, showing gradual losses of vegetation in area and in density. Very dense, dense and moderate vegetation coverage reduced, while areas covered by poor vegetation and characterized as bare soil expanded. As the degradation of natural areas in the urban environment increases, the provision of ecosystem services decreases, adversely affecting climate regulation and air and noise pollution.

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This work concludes that, given the accelerated loss of vegetation coverage, with almost no process of recovery and monitoring of green areas, the offer of ecosystem services in Belém is on the decline, as is the quality of urban environment.

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However, the lack of better, more complete and defined data did not obscure the main goal of identify urban overage loss and relate it to the decrease of ecosystem services provisioning.

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As future steps to further research, to move forward and establish more accurate relations, there is the need for data on temperature, air pollution and noise pollution, as well as detailed Remote Sensing field data with training samples in order to establish exact boundaries and defined land cover types; besides updating to include more recent years and wider area of study to comprehend the entire urban tissue of the municipality of Belém.

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Highlights



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Significant overall qualitative and quantitative urban vegetation coverage loss Loss of very dense, dense and moderate vegetation coverage in fully urbanized areas Decline in the urban vegetation coverage capacity of provisioning ecosystem services of climate regulation, air pollution mitigation and noise pollution regulation Given the accelerated loss of vegetation coverage, inexistent prospects of recovery and monitoring of green areas, the offer of ecosystem services in Belem is on decline

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