Alexandra Farkas, "Modelling the co-benefits urban forest ecosystem services provided on a watershed scale: A critical analysis"

How can green infrastructure create more equity in urban areas? This thesis examines ecosystem services provided by the urban forest just west of Toronto using spatial watershed-scale models. Completed in collaboration with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority the project looks at the ecosystem surrounding Etobicoke Creek, a degraded and highly urbanized watershed in a densely populated and demographically and socioeconomically diverse section of southern Ontario that includes parts of Caledon, Brampton, Mississauga, and Toronto. With increasing pressures from climate change impacts, invasive species, increased impervious surfaces, pollution, and other stressors, urban forests and the co-benefits their ecosystems provide to communities are at risk. At the same time, co-benefits such as carbon storage and sequestration, flood mitigation and stormwater management, and pollution removal are invaluable to a healthy watershed but not always equitably distributed. This project examines the potential of modeling ecosystem service co-benefits as part of future watershed planning.