This paper presents a new typology of waste repositories as a means of assessing the cultural ecosystem services of such sites in the United Kingdom. The potential ecosystem services provided by waste repositories are dependent on many factors including the type of waste, age of the site, restoration strategy, environmental management and proximity to settlements. This understanding is critical given the pressures to reprocess or develop these sites and their potential role in climate change resilience, health and well-being and nature conservation.
Waste repositories are often perceived as derelict or degraded sites of very little value to society. However, many such sites, which include landfills and mine spoils, have been transformed into valuable community assets either through a managed restoration, for example as part of an aftercare strategy, or natural regeneration. They are also increasingly being recognised as rich ecological resources capable of supporting rare and vulnerable species.
The benefits of restored waste repositories to local communities can be thought of in terms of the cultural ecosystem services they provide. For example, many are located near human settlements and are used, formally and informally, as green spaces thus providing opportunities for rest and relaxation. Some represent a link with a past industrial landscape and elicit strong emotional attachments for the local populations. Others simply provide attractive, semi-natural settings or connectivity with nature that may be otherwise absent. Developed through the NERC/ESRC-funded project ‘In-situ recovery of resource from waste repositories’ the typology will be tested through consultation with stakeholders and residents.