Environmental impacts of artificial lawns

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

Rob Francis

Department of Geography, KCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Michael Chadwick

Department of Geography, KCL

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Project Description:

Lawns are a common form of private green space in cities, and typically represent 70-75% of total urban green space. Lawns provide a range of ecosystem services, including habitat, regulation of urban runoff and temperature regulation. The replacement of grass (living) lawns with artificial lawns constructed from synthetic polymers (plastics) is an emerging trend in cities, but the environmental impacts are largely unknown. This project would use a multidisciplinary mixed-methods approach combining remote sensing, field and lab work, and stakeholder interviews to determine (1) the spatial extent and variability of artificial lawn installation in London; (2) differences in ecosystem service provision between artificial and living lawns; and (3) stakeholder motivations for artificial lawn installation and maintenance regimes.

Policy Impact of Research:

Plastic grass is polarising: there is a high demand for it, as well as regular petitions to ban its use. Artificial lawns feature in the media frequently, with any published research of public interest. Project will be very relevant to environmental policy and guidance around the use of plastic grass.

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