Ecosystem Services in Urban Rivers

Ecosystem services is a concept that is increasingly emerging in the context of sustainable development. It refers to the benefits of ecosystems for people, such as providing drinking water, regulating the climate or providing food. One ecosystem that plays an important role in people’s lives is urban rivers. Urban rivers are not only attractive places for leisure and recreation, but also important elements of urban infrastructure. They affect the quality of life of city residents, as well as the environment. That is why it is so important to take care of their ecosystems and take advantage of the services they offer us. In the attached illustration we show the entire range of ecosystem services available, but below we will discuss one popular example from each service category.

Recreation and tourism (this is an example of so-called cultural services).

Urban rivers are important places for recreation and tourism. Many cities hold various events and festivals along the rivers, which attracts tourists and city residents. Residents and tourists often participate in canoeing on rivers. However, in order to enjoy attractive areas along rivers, it is necessary to take care of their ecosystems and cleanliness.

Climate regulation (this is an example of so-called regulatory services)

Urban rivers also have an impact on climate regulation. Rivers and their surroundings can act as natural retention reservoirs that store water during rainfall and release it during drought. This reduces the risk of flooding and drought, and improves the quality of soil and vegetation.

Protecting biodiversity (this is an example of so-called habitat services)

Urban rivers are also important habitats for various animal and plant species. Therefore, it is important to take care of their ecosystems and protect biodiversity. Many cities are conducting river protection and restoration programs to restore the natural state of the river and protect biodiversity.

Food (this is an example of so-called provisioning services)

Urban rivers that are not polluted are a source of tasty and fresh fish. But this condition about the absence of pollution is determinative. It is not recommended to enjoy the results of fishing when the river is polluted. The same applies to fish ponds next to rivers – we only use such farms that are located on clean waters. That is why it is so important to protect the water quality of the river along its entire length.


The ecosystem services offered by urban rivers are invaluable to urban residents and the environment. They provide food, regulate the climate, provide places for recreation and tourism, and protect biodiversity. That is why it is so important to take care of their ecosystems and use the services they offer us in a sensible way.

Every year in spring, there are city cleanups, forest cleanups and river cleanups. Rivers are perhaps the most difficult place to clean. On the one hand, they are always the lowest point in the landscape (that’s where rainwater runs off). On the other hand, accessibility is difficult for natural reasons. Annual Operation River campaigns are carried out in many rivers in Poland. You are warmly invited to all of them on the action pages of


And here you can find the links to the reports of the Cleaning Actions on the Reda River: