Background China


Implementation of the ecosystem service concept in green infrastructure planning to strengthen the resilience of the Metropole Ruhr and Chinese megacities

»Green infrastructure« contributes to strengthening the resilience of the metropolis Ruhr and Chinese megacities, as it is a carrier of ecosystem services. IMECOGIP develops innovative methods for their assessment, taking into account cultural, socio-economic and climatic characteristics. IMECOGIP develops knowledge and methodological expertise and transfers it into the planning practice of both regions.

Project Objectives

How efficient are and what benefits do the various parts of a city provide for people (green spaces, greened residential and industrial areas, avenues, forests, nature reserves, meadows, agricultural areas, etc.) depending on their composition of natural or near-natural elements? Where is a need for improvements and where are possibilities for optimisation? What are the advantages and disadvantages of planning options?

The project develops an innovative package of methods to support the planning of »green infrastructure« in densely populated urban areas. Through close cooperation with developers and potential users from business and administration, IMECOGIP contributes to applied and practice-oriented implementation research in Germany and China.

Addressed Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations

good health and well-being
clean water and sanitation
reduced inequalities
sustainable cities and communities
climate action
imecogip shanghai


©RUB, Harald Zepp


In Germany, strengthening of »green infrastructure« including ecosystem services in urban areas is a political consensus and is promoted by the EU, among others. In China, recent environmental policies of the central government directly address ecosystem services. Nevertheless, the implementation in regional and local planning in both countries faces major challenges. On the one hand, hardly any explicit regulations have been institutionalised so far, and on the other hand, planners and politicians adhere to established paradigms and planning routines. In addition, both countries are faced with the task of adapting the acquired knowledge and methodological skills to practical requirements. This happens in a practice-oriented research approach. The project provides methods, which make »green infrastructure« more noticeable and visible and applies them to specific case studies. Moreover, the need for basic data becomes apparent. There is a clear imbalance between the two countries in the availability of freely available data (e.g. high-resolution geodata).

Focus Topics

Research in Action







Research Approach and Methods

IMECOGIP combines the expertise of scientists from various disciplines and research fields: Urban Ecology, Ecosystem Services Science, Landscape Architecture, Biogeography, Human Geography and Urban Sociology (Urban Governance), Geomatics. The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services by Haines-Young & Potschin provides the conceptual framework for the ES-assessment of different plans in our toolbox. The toolbox is designed as an open GIS-based programme package. It is supplemented by ecosystem service profiles as part of a methodological manual, which explains both the scientific principles, the necessary data and framework conditions for their application, as well as programme-related details. In addition, there are illustrative case studies. Pilot areas in the metropolis Ruhr and in Shanghai support the method development. They show the lack of basic data and gave occasion to extensive data collection (Big Data) in the field with high-resolution satellite data. A science-policy dialogue was established as an interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange format. This format serves as the cooperation basis of the transdisciplinary network between research institutions, planning authorities and companies.

Roadside greenery with adjacent residential development in Shanghai

Straßenbegleitgrün mit angrenzender Wohnbebauung in Shanghai

©RUB, Matthias Falke

Expected Solutions and Innovations

The IMECOGIP toolbox will allow comprehensive analyses of ecosystem services in urban areas in large parts of Europe and Eastern China. A detailed manual explaining functions, methods, and technical features to interested users in administration, politics and science will ensure the applicability and transferability of the toolbox. Online materials and peer-reviewed journal articles in English guarantee the visibility of the solutions developed for »urban green« assessments. Besides, institutional reforms in Chinese environmental planning underline a broader acceptance with regard to sustainable urban developments. The project therefore focuses on cooperation agreements with public administrations and leading consulting agencies. Moreover, the open source solution for the developed methodological package is designed to provide a long-lasting added value. This makes it possible for practitioners everywhere to design their own flexible applications in administration and business.

Current Achievements

For decision-making based on nature’s contribution to the well-being of people in urban and peri-urban areas, the project team developed a package of multifold methods, compiled as a Geographic Information System (GIS) supported toolbox. The methods make optimal use of available, preferably existing digital geodata or data that can easily be retrieved by means of remote sensing.

GIS data take into account national and local classification systems of land use or biotopes for application from local to regional scales. Currently, nine ecosystem services are available and, among them are innovative tools, such as for temperature regulation and PM10-attenuation. The IMECOGIP team is constantly testing the tools in use cases together with practitioners from municipalities and experts in Shanghai (China) as well as in Bochum and Gelsenkirchen (Germany).

The IMECOGIP Toolbox comes together with a comprehensive manual designed for various user groups. It will allow for comprehensive analyses of ecosystem services in urban areas, based on vegetation-atmosphere-soil-interactions. In the future, several ecosystem services will be assessed and the toolbox will display synergies and trade-offs between them. The toolbox can be used worldwide in humid and subhumid regions, especially in Europe and Eastern China with pre-installed classifications and adherent model parameters. With this toolbox, IMECOGIP supports the awareness of existing ecosystem services, their enhanced use in the existing urban fabric and consideration in planning of new urban subdivisions or compensation measures.



Prof. Dr. Harald Zepp

Prof. Dr. Harald Zepp


©Michael Schwettmann

In a few years, ecosystem services and nature-based solutions will become a must-have for resilient and climate-friendly urban planning. Our project provides groundbreaking, supportive methods and know-how for this purpose. The methods integrate ecological knowledge and technology-based process innovations.

Prof. Nannan Dong

Prof. Nannan Dong


©Nannan Dong

It is increasingly urgent to improve the resilience of metropolitan areas to respond to climate change. Through digital based tools and interdisciplinary innovations, combined with cutting-edge researches and the latest planning practices, IMECOGIP explores how to accurately monitor and analyse complicated problems in green infrastructure planning, find the solution and support landscape performance assessment.

Download Project Profile

Project Profile IMECOGIP

Centroid IMECOGIP 1 pdf 1

Project coordination

Prof. Dr. Harald Zepp

Prof. Dr. Harald Zepp


©Michael Schwettmann

Ruhr University Bochum, Faculty of Geosciences