Social segregation of ecosystem services delivery in the San Antonio region, Texas, through 2050. Academic Article uri icon


  • Inequality in access to ecosystem services is inextricably linked with environmental justice in socially heterogeneous urban settings. Historically, San Antonio has been the gateway to Mexico and is strategically located along the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) corridor. It is also characterized by some of the most distinct residential segregation among U.S. cities. However, little is understood about the ways in which historically institutionalized residential segregation initiated by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) and NAFTA have affected socio-ecological outcomes. Here, this paper presents a novel empirical study of racial residential segregation. The study utilizes quantitative and spatially explicit estimates of regulating ecosystem services and biodiversity, and links the supply of ecosystem services to the distribution of human well-being within a heterogeneous social-ecological system. Specifically, the paper employed 1930s HOLC redlining maps and applied the ceteris paribus approach for racial concentrations to reflect a historical legacy and path dependence by institutional inertia. The results point to the social-ecological divide in that Hispanic and African American minorities derive fewer ecosystem benefits and face greater health risks and socio-economic disadvantages (p<0.01). Notably, NAFTA corridor-related health risks are the most significant for the Hispanic population (p<0.01). These patterns are likely to persist and may be amplified by 2050 (adjusted R2=0.646). The findings highlight that institutional transformations are essential for the greater social-ecological equity in the San Antonio region under NAFTA and, potentially, new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Additionally, by assessing the EJ implications of spatially heterogeneous distribution of ecosystem services supply, the paper provides methodology that enhances science-based planning and better environmental decision-making to avoid or mitigate social-ecological divides in rapidly urbanizing regions both in the U.S. and around the world.

published proceedings

  • Sci Total Environ

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Yi, H., Kreuter, U. P., Han, D., & Gneralp, B.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Yi, Hoonchong||Kreuter, Urs P||Han, Daikwon||G├╝neralp, Burak

publication date

  • January 2019