Scheuer, S., Davies, C., Roitsch, D., 2024. Governance, institutional and economic frameworks for Urban Forests as a Nature-Based Solution in Europe. Journal of Environmental Management, 354, 120384.

Urban forests as nature-based solutions (UF–NbS) play a crucial role for promoting the health and well-being of urban populations. Despite increasing recognition of their importance, knowledge gaps remain regarding UF-NbS implementation, particularly with respect to their performance, their perception, and on decision-making and governance practices for their implementation and management. Grounded in a project-as-practice approach and based on sixteen UF-NbS case histories, this paper seeks to gain insights into UF-NbS project actualities by an identification of characteristic trends as a function of a projects’ scope and purpose, or challenge-orientation, respectively. A particular emphasis is on project structure and coordination, on the scope and depth of participation and stakeholder involvement, and on funding mechanisms. Identified trends reveal centrally coordinated, single-responsible public authorities as the most common project structure, but with certain feature contents, i.e., regeneration and reclamation, as being associated with more decentralised forms of governance. It is concluded that irrespective of challenge-orientation, comparatively broad participation appears to be realised within the UF-NbS framework, however, the depth of participation differs considerably. With respect to funding, a strong reliance on public capital is asserted for the UF-NbS context, however, various forms of private contributions appear reasonably common across the assessed case histories. Recommendations for policy-making and avenues of future research are identified, including the validation of identified trends, the fostering of collaboration, the dispersal of decision-making authority, the encouragement for implementing non-tokenistic modes of participation in UF-NbS governance, and the promotion of potentially under-utilised funds.


Scheuer, S., Jache, J., Kičić, M., Wellmann, T., Wolff, M., Haase, D., 2022. A trait-based typification of urban forests as nature-based solutions. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 78, 127780.

Urban forests as nature-based solutions (UF-NBS) are important tools for climate change adaptation and sustainable development. However, achieving both effective and sustainable UF-NBS solutions requires diverse knowledge. This includes knowledge on UF-NBS implementation, on the assessment of their environmental impacts in diverse spatial contexts, and on their management for the long-term safeguarding of delivered benefits. A successful integration of such bodies of knowledge demands a systematic understanding of UF-NBS. To achieve such an understanding, this paper presents a conceptual UF-NBS model obtained through a semantic, trait-based modelling approach. This conceptual model is subsequently implemented as an extendible, re-usable and interoperable ontology. In so doing, a formal, trait-based vocabulary on UF-NBS is created, that allows expressing spatial, morphological, physical, functional, and institutional UF-NBS properties for their typification and a subsequent integration of further knowledge and data. Thereby, ways forward are opened for a more systematic UF-NBS impact assessment, management, and decision-making.

Brillinger, M., Scheuer, S., Albert, C., 2022. Deliberating options for nature-based river development: Insights from a participatory multi-criteria evaluation. Journal of Environmental Management, 317, 115350.

To address societal challenges in river landscapes, various options are conceivable that differ in the degree of adopting nature-based solutions (NBS) and the respective impacts on people and nature. Multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) can aid participatory deliberations about the performance and significance of such options. However, little experience and evidence exist from the application of participatory MCE in planning NBS in river landscapes. This study aims to expand the understanding of individual and collaborative judgments of agency representatives about river development options with varying levels of NBS interventions. A process tracing approach with a rigorous participatory MCE for four alternatives to develop an exemplary river in Germany is adopted, as well as weighted linear aggregation, descriptive statistics, principal component analysis, and decision tree modelling for data analysis. The results reveal a wide agreement among participants on the positive impacts of NBS on biodiversity and water quality. Participants also tended to judge those ecological dimensions as more important than non-ecological ones. The rankings of alternatives differed when elicited individually but seemed to converge during the deliberation process. Overall, the results indicate a relative preference of participants for medium NBS interventions, but also shed light on potential implementation hurdles. The study closes by proposing key questions to consider for MCE of NBS.


Zingraff-Hamed, A., Hüesker, F., Albert, C., Brillinger, M., Huang, J., Lupp, G., Scheuer, S., Schlätel, M., Schröter, B., 2021. Governance models for nature-based solutions: Seventeen cases from Germany. Ambio, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01412-x.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) for mitigating climate change are gaining popularity. The number of NBS is increasing, but research gaps still exist at the governance level. The objectives of this paper are (i) to give an overview of the implemented NBS for flood risk management and mitigation in Germany, (ii) to identify governance models that are applied, and (iii) to explore the differences between these models. The results of a hierarchical clustering procedure and a qualitative analysis show that while no one-size-fits-all governance model exists, polycentricism is an important commonality between the projects. The study concludes by highlighting the need for further research on traditional governance model reconversion and paradigm changes. We expect the findings to identify what has worked in the past, as well as what is important for the implementation of NBS for flood risk management in future projects.

Scheuer, S., Haase, D., Haase, A., Wolff, M., and Wellmann, T., 2021. A glimpse into the future of exposure and vulnerabilities in cities? Modelling of residential location choice of urban population with random forest. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 21, 203–217.

The most common approach to assessing natural hazard risk is investigating the willingness to pay in the presence or absence of such risk. In this work, we propose a new, machine-learning-based, indirect approach to the problem, i.e. through residential-choice modelling. Especially in urban environments, exposure and vulnerability are highly dynamic risk components, both being shaped by a complex and continuous reorganization and redistribution of assets within the urban space, including the (re-)location of urban dwellers. By modelling residential-choice behaviour in the city of Leipzig, Germany, we seek to examine how exposure and vulnerabilities are shaped by the residential-location-choice process. The proposed approach reveals hot spots and cold spots of residential choice for distinct socioeconomic groups exhibiting heterogeneous preferences. We discuss the relationship between observed patterns and disaster risk through the lens of exposure and vulnerability, as well as links to urban planning, and explore how the proposed methodology may contribute to predicting future trends in exposure, vulnerability, and risk through this analytical focus. Avenues for future research include the operational strengthening of these linkages for more effective disaster risk management.

Scheuer, S., Jache, J., Sumfleth, L., Wellmann, T., and Haase, D., 2021. Creating accessible evidence bases: Opportunities through the integration of interactive tools into literature review synthesis. MethodsX, 8, 101558.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that an immediate access to relevant information is key for timely interventions and forming of public opinion and discourse. In this regard, dashboards present themselves as invaluable tools for the democratization of data and for the creation of accessible evidence bases. Building on this momentum, it is proposed to integrate interactive means such as dashboards into academic literature review synthesis, in order to support the summarization, narration, and dissemination of findings, and furthermore, to increase transparency and support the transferability and comparability of findings. Exemplified for a systematic literature review on urban forests as nature-based solutions, Key functionalities, requirements and design considerations for the development of dashboards for use in academic literature reviews synthesis are identified; An application architecture that embeds dashboard development into an R workflow is presented, with emphasis on the steps needed to transform the data collected during the review process into a structured form; Technical and methodological means for the actual dashboard implementation are highlighted, considering the identified key functionalities and requirements.


Scheuer, S., Haase, D., Kabisch, N., Wolff, M., Haase, A., Schwarz, N., Großmann, K., 2020. Combining tacit knowledge elicitation with the SilverKnETs tool and random forests – The example of residential housing choices in Leipzig. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 47(3), 400-416.

Residential choice behaviour is a complex process underpinned by both housing market restrictions and individual preferences, which are partly conscious and partly tacit knowledge. Due to several limitations, common survey methods cannot sufficiently tap into such tacit knowledge. Thus, this paper introduces an advanced knowledge elicitation process called SilverKnETs and combines it with data mining using random forests to elicit and operationalize this type of knowledge. For the application case of the city of Leipzig, Germany, our findings indicate that rent, location and type of housing form the three predictors strongly influencing the decision making in residential choices. Other explanatory variables appear to have a much lower influence. Random forests have proven to be a promising tool for the prediction of residential choices, although the design and scope of the study govern the explanatory power of these models.

Andersson, E., Haase, D., Scheuer, S., Wellmann, T., 2020. Neighbourhood character affects the spatial extent and magnitude of the functional footprint of urban green infrastructure. Landscape Ecology, 35, 1605-1618.

Context: Urban densification has been argued to increase the contrast between built up and open green space. This contrast may offer a starting point for assessing the extent and magnitude of the positive influences urban green infrastructure is expected to have on its surroundings. Objectives: Drawing on insights from landscape ecology and urban geography, this exploratory study investigates how the combined properties of green and grey urban infrastructures determine the influence of urban green infrastructure on the overall quality of the urban landscape. Methods: This article uses distance rise-or-decay functions to describe how receptive different land uses are to the influence of neighbouring green spaces, and does this based on integrated information on urban morphology, land surface temperature and habitat use by breeding birds. Results: Our results show how green space has a non-linear and declining cooling influence on adjacent urban land uses, extending up to 300–400 m in densely built up areas and up to 500 m in low density areas. Further, we found a statistically significant declining impact of green space on bird species richness up to 500 m outside its boundaries.

Wolff, M., Scheuer, S., Haase, D., 2020. Looking beyond boundaries: Revisiting the rural-urban interface of Green Space Accessibility in Europe. Ecological Indicators, 113, 106245.

Improving Green Space Accessibility (GSA) in public spaces in cities and communities reduces disparities among people and fosters sustainable development. However, traditional mapping approaches in cities neglects green spaces in the hinterland and treats the geographical distance as a fixed quantity. This limits conclusions about spatial inequalities in Green Space Accessibility and influences the evaluation of current policies which seek to ensure a high local recreation quality for all residents irrespective of any administrative boundaries. This paper aims to detect spatial inequalities in Green Space Accessibility for urban green (UG) and non-urban green (NUG) across Europe, and reveals the role of the rural-urban interface (RUI). The approach taken here calculates Green Space Accessibility across administrative boundaries, which enables distance to be treated as a flexible variable. The results highlight major inequalities between and within regions and countries. However, unequal Green Space Accessibility for urban green is compensated in most countries by more equal one for non-urban green, which is of particular relevance in the rural-urban interface. The combined perspective on both relative and absolute Green Space Accessibility suggests a new perspective on the rural-urban interface that is critical for equitable green infrastructure planning. This paper concludes that, in order to bridge the urban-rural-divide, monitoring and planning tools that examine the arbitrary use of thresholds and existing administrative boundaries are needed.

Wellmann, T., Lausch, A., Scheuer, S., Haase, D., 2020. Earth observation based indication for avian species distribution models using the spectral trait concept and machine learning in an urban setting. Ecological Indicators, 111, 106029.

Birds respond strongly to vegetation structure and composition, yet typical species distribution models (SDMs) that incorporate Earth observation (EO) data use discrete land-use/cover data to model habitat suitability. Since this neglects factors of internal spatial composition and heterogeneity of EO data, we suggest a novel scheme deriving continuous indicators of vegetation heterogeneity from high-resolution EO data. The deployed concepts encompass vegetation fractions for determining vegetation density and spectral traits for the quantification of vegetation heterogeneity. Both indicators are derived from RapidEye data, thus featuring a continuous spatial resolution of 6.5 m. Using these indicators as predictors, we model breeding bird habitats using a random forest (RF) classifier for the city of Leipzig, Germany using a single EO image. SDMs are trained for the breeding sites of 44 urban bird species, featuring medium to very high accuracies (59–90%). Analysing similarities between the models regarding variable importance of single predictors allows species groups to be determined based on their preferences and dependencies regarding the amount of vegetation and its spatial and structural heterogeneity. When combining the SDMs, models of urban bird species richness can be derived. The combination of high-resolution EO data paired with the RF machine learning technique creates very detailed insights into the ecology of the urban avifauna, opening up opportunities of optimising greenspace management schemes or urban development in densifying cities concerning overall bird species richness or single species under threat of local extinction.

Wellmann, T., Lausch, A., Andersson, E., Knapp, S., Cortinovis, C., Jache, J., Scheuer, S., Kremer, P., Mascarenhas, A., Kraemer, R., Haase, A., Schug, F., Haase, D., 2020. Remote sensing in urban planning: Contributions towards ecologically sound policies? Landscape and Urban Planning, 204, 103921.

Remote sensing has evolved to become a key tool for various fields of environmental analysis, thus actively informing policy across areas and domains. To evaluate the degree to which remote sensing is contributing to the science of ecologically-oriented urban planning, we carried out a systematic literature review using the SCOPUS database, searching for articles integrating knowledge in urban planning, remote sensing and ecology. We reviewed 186 articles, analysing various issues in urban environments worldwide. Key findings include that the level of integration between the three disciplines is limited, with only 12% of the papers fully integrating ecology, remote sensing and planning while 24% of the studies use specific methods from one domain only. The vast majority of studies is oriented towards contributing to the knowledge base or monitoring the impacts of existing policies. Few studies are directly policy relevant by either contributing to direct issues in planning and making specific design suggestions or evaluations. The accessibility of the scientific findings remains limited, as the majority of journal articles are not open access and proprietary software and data are frequently used. To overcome these issues, we suggest three future avenues for science as well as three potential entry points for remote sensing into applied urban planning. By doing so, remote sensing data could become a vital tool actively contributing to policies, civil engagement and concrete planning measures by providing independent and cost effective environmental analyses.


Scheuer, S., Wellmann, T., Haase, D., Wolff, M., Haase, A., 2019.
Assessing trends in future exposure and vulnerability of population to natural hazards based on tacit knowledge and data mining techniques. EGU General Assembly 2019, Vienna, April 7-12.

Wellmann, T., Scheuer, S., Lausch, A., Haase, D., 2019. Modelling the distribution of 44 urban bird species using Earth observation based plant trait indicators and machine learning. EGU General Assembly 2019, Vienna, April 7-12.

Wolff, M, Scheuer, S., Haase, D., 2019. Looking beyond borders – revisiting the green space accessibility in urban Europe. CAT-ference 2019: 8th International Urban Geographies of Post-communist States Conference, Belgrade, September 25-29.



Scheuer, S., Haase, D., Volk, M., 2017. Integrative assessment of climate change for fast-growing urban areas: Measurement and recommendations for future research. PLoS ONE, 12(12), e0189451.

Over the 20th century, urbanization has substantially shaped the surface of Earth. With population rapidly shifting from rural locations towards the cities, urban areas have dramatically expanded on a global scale and represent crystallization points of social, cultural and economic assets and activities. This trend is estimated to persist for the next decades, and particularly the developing countries are expected to face rapid urban growth. The management of this growth will require good governance strategies and planning. By threatening the livelihoods, assets and health as foundations of human activities, another major global change contributor, climate change, became an equally important concern of stakeholders. Based on the climate trends observed over the 20th century, and a spatially explicit model of urbanization, this paper investigates the impacts of climate change in relation to different stages of development of urban areas, thus evolving a more integrated perspective on both processes. As a result, an integrative measure of climate change trends and impacts is proposed and estimated for urban areas worldwide. We show that those areas facing major urban growth are to a large extent also hotspots of climate change. Since most of these hotspots are located in the Global South, we emphasize the need for stakeholders to co-manage both drivers of global change. The presented integrative perspective is seen as a starting point to foster such co-management, and furthermore as a means to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange on climate change impacts.


Langemeyer, J., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Haase, D., Scheuer, S., Elmqvist, T., 2016. Bridging the gap between ecosystem service assessments and land-use planning through Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). Environmental Science and Policy, 62, 45–56.

Land-use planning is an important determinant for green space policy in cities. It defines land covers and hence the structure and function of urban ecosystems and the benefits these provide to humans, such as air purification, urban cooling, runoff mitigation, and recreation. The ecosystem service approach has helped to attract policy attention to these benefits but the concept remains poorly implemented in urban policy and governance. To address this gap, we advance a framework to bridge ecosystem services into policy processes through Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) as decision support tool. The paper is organized in three main parts. First, we conduct a systematic literature review to assess state-of-the-art knowledge on ecosystem service assessments through MCDA. Next, we build on insights from the literature review to develop the ‘ecosystem services policy-cycle’, a conceptual framework that merges the ‘ecosystem service cascade’ and ‘policy cycle’ models to reinforce the link between ecosystem service assessments and practical applications in urban policy and governance. Next, we illustrate the applicability of the proposed framework along an example about conflicting interests on land use and green space planning following the closure of the Airport Tempelhof in Berlin, Germany. Our results highlight the scope of MCDA as a decision support tool for integrating ecosystem service assessments in green space governance. We discuss advantages and disadvantages of different methodological choices in the use of MCDA in ecosystem service assessments and note that a key strength of this tool in informing green space policies lies in its capacity to accommodate conflicting stakeholder perspectives and to address trade-offs between ecological, social and economic values.

Scheuer, S., Haase, D., Volk., M., 2016. On the Nexus of the Spatial Dynamics of Global Urbanization and the Age of the City. PLoS ONE, 11(8), e0160471.

A number of concepts exist regarding how urbanization can be described as a process. Understanding this process that affects billions of people and its future development in a spatial manner is imperative to address related issues such as human quality of life. In the focus of spatially explicit studies on urbanization is typically a city, a particular urban region, an agglomeration. However, gaps remain in spatially explicit global models. This paper addresses that issue by examining the spatial dynamics of urban areas over time, for a full coverage of the world. The presented model identifies past, present and potential future hotspots of urbanization as a function of an urban area’s spatial variation and age, whose relation could be depicted both as a proxy and as a path of urban development.


Scheuer, S., Haase, D., Meyer, V., 2013. Towards a flood risk assessment ontology – Knowledge integration into a multi-criteria risk assessment approach. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 37, 82–94.

Flood risk management must rely on a proper and encompassing flood risk assessment, which possibly reflects the individual characteristics of all elements at risk of being flooded. In addition to prevalent expert knowledge, such an approach must also rely on local knowledge. In this context, stakeholder preferences for risk assessment indicators and assessment deliverables hold great importance but are often neglected. This paper proposes to put this body of information into operation in form of a knowledge base, thereby making it accessible and reusable in multi-criteria risk assessment. Selected use cases discuss the advantages of such a semantically enhanced assessment approach.


Luther, J., Meyer, V., Kuhlicke, C., Scheuer, S., Unnerstall, H., 2012. Improving Flood Risk Maps as a Capacity Building Activity: Fostering Public Participation and Raising Flood Risk Awareness in the German Mulde Region (project RISK MAP). EGU General Assembly 2012, Vienna, April 22-27.

Meyer, V., Kuhlicke, C., Luther, J., Fuchs, S., Priest, S., Dorner, W., Serrhini, K., Pardoe, J., McCarthy, S., Seidel, J., Palka, G., Unnerstall, H., Viavattene, C., Scheuer, S., 2012. Recommendations for the user-specific enhancement of flood maps. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 12(5), 1701–1716.

The European Union Floods Directive requires the establishment of flood maps for high risk areas in all European member states by 2013. However, the current practice of flood mapping in Europe still shows some deficits. Firstly, flood maps are frequently seen as an information tool rather than a communication tool. This means that, for example, local stocks of knowledge are not incorporated. Secondly, the contents of flood maps often do not match the requirements of the end-users. Finally, flood maps are often designed and visualised in a way that cannot be easily understood by residents at risk and/or that is not suitable for the respective needs of public authorities in risk and event management. The RISK MAP project examined how end-user participation in the mapping process may be used to overcome these barriers and enhance the communicative power of flood maps, fundamentally increasing their effectiveness. Based on empirical findings from a participatory approach that incorporated interviews, workshops and eye-tracking tests, conducted in five European case studies, this paper outlines recommendations for user-specific enhancements of flood maps. More specific, recommendations are given with regard to (1) appropriate stakeholder participation processes, which allow incorporating local knowledge and preferences, (2) the improvement of the contents of flood maps by considering user-specific needs and (3) the improvement of the visualisation of risk maps in order to produce user-friendly and understandable risk maps for the user groups concerned. Furthermore, „idealised“ maps for different user groups are presented: for strategic planning, emergency management and the public.

Scheuer, S., Haase, D., 2012. Operationalizing expert knowledge and stakeholder preferences in integrated natural hazard risk assessment. International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (iEMSs) 2012 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software Managing Resources of a Limited Planet, Sixth Biennial Meeting, Leipzig, Germany, July 1-5.


Haase, D., Meyer, V., Scheuer, S., 2011. Exploring multicriteria flood vulnerability by integrating flood risk and coping capacity – from a starting point view towards an end point view of vulnerability. EGU General Assembly 2011, Vienna, April 3-8.

Scheuer, S., Haase, D., Meyer, V., 2011. Exploring multicriteria flood vulnerability by integrating economic, social and ecological dimensions of flood risk and coping capacity: from a starting point view towards an end point view of vulnerability. Natural Hazards, 58, 731–751.

In this paper, we present an approach to modelling multicriteria flood vulnerability which integrates the economic, social and ecological dimension of risk and coping capacity. We start with an existing multicriteria risk mapping approach. The term risk is used here in a way that could be called a starting point view, looking at vulnerability without considering coping capacities. We extend this approach by a multicriteria modelling of coping capacities towards an end point view of vulnerability. In doing so, we explore a way to differentiate coping capacity from flood risk in each of the dimensions of vulnerability. The approach is tested in an urban case study, the city of Leipzig, Germany. Our results show that it is possible to map multicriteria risks as well as coping capacities and relate them in a simple way. However, a detailed calculation of end point vulnerability would require more detailed knowledge on the causal relationships between risk and coping capacity criteria and their relative importance.


Kubal, C., Haase, D., Meyer, V., Scheuer, S., 2009. Integrated urban flood risk assessment – adapting a multicriteria approach to a city. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 9, 1881–1895.

Flood risk assessment is an essential part of flood risk management. As part of the new EU flood directive it is becoming increasingly more popular in European flood policy. Particularly cities with a high concentration of people and goods are vulnerable to floods. This paper introduces the adaptation of a novel method of multicriteria flood risk assessment, that was recently developed for the more rural Mulde river basin, to a city. The study site is Leipzig, Germany. The “urban” approach includes a specific urban-type set of economic, social and ecological flood risk criteria, which focus on urban issues: population and vulnerable groups, differentiated residential land use classes, areas with social and health care but also ecological indicators such as recreational urban green spaces. These criteria are integrated using a “multicriteria decision rule” based on an additive weighting procedure which is implemented into the software tool FloodCalc urban. Based on different weighting sets we provide evidence of where the most flood-prone areas are located in a city. Furthermore, we can show that with an increasing inundation extent it is both the social and the economic risks that strongly increase.

Meyer, V., Haase, D., Scheuer, S., 2009. Flood risk assessment in European river basins—concept, methods, and challenges exemplified at the Mulde river. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 5(1), 17–26.

Flood risk assessment is an essential part of flood risk management, a concept that is becoming more and more popular in European flood policy and is part of the new European Union flood directive. This paper gives a brief introduction into the general concept and methods of flood risk assessment. Furthermore, 3 problems in the practical application of flood risk assessment, particularly on the river basin scale, are discussed: First, uncertainties in flood risk assessment; second, the inclusion of social and environmental flood risk factors; and third, the consideration of the spatial dimension of flood risk. In the 2nd part of the paper a multicriteria risk mapping approach is introduced that is intended to address these 3 problems.

Meyer, V., Scheuer, S., Haase, D., 2009. A multicriteria approach for flood risk mapping exemplified at the Mulde river, Germany. Natural Hazards, 48, 17–39.

In this paper we develop a GIS-based multicriteria flood risk assessment and mapping approach. This approach includes flood risks which are not measured in monetary terms; it shows the spatial distribution of multiple risks, and it is able to deal with uncertainties in criteria values and to show their influence on the overall flood risk assessment. Additionally, the approach can be used to show the spatial allocation of the flood effects if risk reduction measures are implemented. The approach is applied to a pilot study for the River Mulde in Saxony, Germany, heavily affected by the hazardous flood in 2002. Therefore, a GIS database of economic, social and environmental risk criteria was created. Two different multicriteria decision rules, a disjunctive and an additive weighting approach, are utilised for an overall flood risk assessment in the area. For implementation, a software tool (FloodCalc) was developed supporting both, the risk calculation of the single criteria as well as the multicriteria analysis.


Meyer, V., Haase, D., Scheuer, S., 2007. GIS-based multicriteria analysis as decision support in flood risk management. UFZ-Diskussionspapiere, 6/2017. Leipzig.