This article was originally published on Anthropocene Magazine

“Though vacant lots are often the most verdant spaces in a city-dweller’s everyday life, they’re not usually appreciated for the life they host. Sure, they support a bit of nature and maybe symbolize a sort of wildness, but they’re overrun by non-native plants and possess marginal ecological value—or so the conventional wisdom goes. Yet this may not be fair. From one perspective, at least, those scraggly lots are worth a great deal.

In an Urban Forestry & Urban Greening study of vacant lots in Cleveland, Ohio, where economic impoverishment and a declining population have left some 27,000 lots to go feral, the ecosystem services provided by inner-city lots far surpassed those of carefully-tended residential and suburban spaces. “The quantity and monetary value of ecosystem services provided by the urban forest was greatest on inner-city vacant lots,” wrote biologists Mary Gardiner, Christopher Riley, and Daniel Herms of Ohio State University. “Naturally-regenerated, minimally managed exotic species on vacant land provide valuable ecosystem services.”…”

Read on at Anthropocene Magazine.