There has been a growing global interest in urban agriculture that contributes to the well-being of urban dwellers by providing various ecosystem services. Focusing on allotment gardens, this study quantitatively analyzed their economic conditions, ecosystem service provisions, economic and environmental efficiencies, and the differences among them as regards their location and management. A questionnaire survey was used for data collection as a basic input for the quantification of economic conditions and ecosystem services of 223 allotments in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Data envelopment analysis (DEA) was used for analyzing the economic and environmental efficiency of each allotment. Statistical analyses were conducted to explore statistically significant differences in economic conditions, ecosystem service provisions, and economic and environmental efficiencies among the four groups of allotment gardens classified by location (i.e., urbanization promotion area [UPA] and urbanization control area [UCA]) and type of actor (i.e., public or private). Our analysis identified that the expenditures of public allotments tended to be significantly larger than those of private allotments, whereas there was no difference in the income among the four groups, which resulted in lower economic efficiency of public allotments. Moreover, although public allotments in UCA and UPA provided a large amount of food production, recreation, and disaster prevention services, DEA revealed that they were less environmentally efficient when expenditures such as land rent, construction cost, and operational cost were considered. Our findings also identified that public allotments provided a significantly large amount of ecosystem services for urban dwellers in exchange of large public expenditures, which often resulted in inefficient allotment operation. If local governments and private actors build a collaborative relationship and strategically divide their roles, the governments could decrease the financial burden in the establishment and operations of allotments while maintaining/increasing benefits arising from allotment gardens.
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This research was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-15 Predicting and Assessing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services (PANCES)) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan, JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 17KT0076, and “Research and Social Implementation of Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction as Climate Change Adaptation in Shrinking Societies” of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan.
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