Student Joe McMeeken: The current and future supply of regulating ecosystem services

19 August 2020

We proudly present Joe McMeeken,

Who successfully completed his master thesis research in:

"The current and future supply of regulating ecosystem services derived from green space in the tropical city of Paramaribo"


Hi, I’m Joe McMeekin from the UK and I’ve just graduated with an MSc in Earth Science from the University of Amsterdam. During my final year MSc thesis I carried out research in collaboration with Tropenbos Suriname and the University of Twente into some of the benefits (ecosystem services) green space provides within and surrounding the city of Paramaribo. I then considered how these benefits might change in the future with continued urban growth and alternative green space management approaches.

I specifically focused on mapping four regulating ecosystem services provided by green space which relate to key challenges Paramaribo is facing. These were; (i) coastal protection (from erosion and coastal flooding); (ii) inland flood risk mitigation (via vegetation retaining water during a storm); (iii) local climate regulation (the cooling effect offered by vegetation), and; (iv) carbon storage. My results highlight an uneven and fragmented distribution of each of these ecosystem services, most likely due to lack of consideration for green space and its benefits as the city has grown.

My future scenarios revealed that if the city continues to grow with a lack of consideration or policy protecting green space then each of the considered benefits will decrease, particularly to the south and east of the city, which could in turn result in the worsening of hazards such as increased flooding or heat stress. An introduced policy protecting the important trees and mangroves in Paramaribo could help to limit this, though urban growth would likely still impact the benefits the city currently obtains from green space. A substantial greening of Paramaribo on the other hand, via restoring mangroves in a coastal zone, and via planting trees within a greenbelt surrounding the city and on abandoned or unused land within the city, would prevent the majority of losses of ecosystem services caused by urban growth, and in some areas offer improvement compared to the situation today.

My thesis therefore suggests that an increased awareness of green space and its benefits, alongside protection of important green space and a greening of the city, could increase the resilience of Paramaribo and its residents to hazards (such as flooding) and future challenges (such as climate change) as it continues along its development path.

The highlight of my study was a trip to Paramaribo during which I got to experience the wonderful culture, food and scenery the city has to offer. I would like to thank all those involved for welcoming me and helping me arrange everything I needed. I will never forget this trip and hope to visit again someday! I would also like to thank all those who I interviewed for their cooperation, data or insight into the city. I really enjoyed learning about the city from those who know it best.

Through my research I hope to have contributed to the promotion of a more liveable and green Paramaribo, and offered insight into the relevant, hazard-mitigating role of green space in the beautiful city of Paramaribo, as well as elsewhere within the understudied tropics and global south.


Read more about all student research within this project​


OurTeam congratulates Joe McMeeken with this achievement!
 #groenparamaribo #urbanheatisland #twinningproject #samendoen