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This is the urban century in which, for the first time, the majority of people live in towns and cities. Understanding how people influence, and are influenced by, the 'green' component of these environments is therefore of enormous significance. Providing an overview of the essentials of urban ecology, the book begins by covering the vital background concepts of the urbanisation process and the effect that it can have on ecosystem functions and services. Later sections are devoted to examining how species respond to urbanisation, the many facets of human-ecology interactions, and the issues surrounding urban planning and the provision of urban green spaces. Drawing on examples from urban settlements around the world, it highlights the progress to date in this burgeoning field, as well as the challenges that lie ahead.
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Urban ecology and human health
and wellbeing
The importance of urban greening
Westernised societies are becoming more and more urbanised, and throughout
the twentieth and twenty-first centuries the number of people living in urban
settings has steadily increased. More than half of the world’s population
currently live in urban areas (UNFPA 2007) and this proportion is still set to
increase (Pretty 2007). Urban environments expose people to many stressors,
such as traffic noise and congestion, crowding and fear of crime, and are often
a source of continual demands prohibiting restoration from mental fatigue
(van den Berg et al. 2007). Everyday life revolves around complex information
processing activities requiring directed attention (Kaplan & Kaplan 1989). Our
capacity for this type of concentrated attention is finite, so it is regularly taxed
to its limit, leading to mental fatigue. This is a state characterised by inatten-
tiveness, indecisiveness and increased irritability, and we have fewer cognitive
resources available to manage everyday tasks, leading to increased stress
(Kaplan 1995). To restore our capacity for directed attention, we need to spend
time in settings that utilise involuntary attention requiring no cognitive effort.
Having contact with nature and green spaces promotes this type of attention
restoration, alleviates fatigue and reduces stress. Thus, with ongoing urban and
suburban sprawl, the importance of access to nearby nature is paramount,
especially for those regularly exposed to the pressures of urban life.
The type of green space close to where people live and work is important for
the quality of life of urban citizens and for the sustainability of towns and cities
(Chiesura 2004). Green spaces are defined as ‘open, undeveloped land with
natural vegetation’ (CDC 2009) and there are many types of urban green
space, ranging from larger parks and gardens (community, formal and private),
city farms and urban agriculture to smaller-scale communal squares, allot-
ments and green roofs. Other types include canals and riverbanks, tree-lined
streets, cemeteries, woods and grasslands, cycling routes, disused railways,
Urban Ecology, ed. Kevin J. Gaston. Published by Cambridge University Press.
#British Ecological Society 2010.
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school playing fields and pitches, golf courses, informal recreation areas and
amenity green spaces. Some of these urban green spaces join to form continu-
ous green corridors or networks linking towns, cities and the countryside. The
rural–urban fringe consists of new and reinstated areas of woodland, wetland,
meadow, nature reserves, parks and many other diverse natural habitats. It can
also transport countryside biodiversity to the urban doorstep, thus increasing
opportunities for urban dwellers to encounter rarer flora and fauna as well as
having regular contact with nature (Countryside Agency and Groundwork
2004). All of these sources provide an important direct link to nature for many
people and often represent their sole exposure to nature.
The benefits of urban greening
The presence of urban nature is important for a number of reasons including
improving human health and wellbeing (Kaplan & Kaplan 1989; Frumkin 2001;
Irvine & Warber 2002; Health Council of the Netherlands 2004), improving
behaviour and cognitive functioning (Wells 2000; Taylor et al. 2001), facilita-
ting social networking (Kuo et al. 1998; Ward Thompson 2002) and exercise
(Giles-Corti & Donovan 2002; Giles-Corti et al. 2005), reducing levels of crime,
aggression and violence (Kuo & Sullivan 2001a,b), providing an outdoor class-
room (Kaplan & Kaplan 1989; Kahn & Kellert 2002) and improving its aesthetic
value (Sheets & Manzer 1991).
Improving human health and wellbeing
The presence of green spaces and vegetation in the built environment can
influence human health and wellbeing (Judd et al. 2002; Frumkin 2003; Frumkin
et al. 2004). These terminologies are often used interchangeably, but the term
‘health’ incorporates physical health, mental or emotional health, social health,
spiritual health, lifestyle and functionality. The World Health Organization
(WHO) definition of health is still the most widely cited and states that ‘health
is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the
absence of disease or infirmity’ (WHO 1948). A universal definition of ‘wellbeing’
is not available, as many sources interpret and define it differently. However,
wellbeing is generally considered in a broader context, and the UK Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has collaborated with other govern-
ment departments and stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of the
meaning of wellbeing within a policy context (Box 9.1; DEFRA 2007).
Attempts to establish a potential link between the urban environment and
an individual’s mental health have shown that the prevalence of psychiatric
morbidity is greater in urban areas and less common in rural domains, after
adjusting for confounding variables (Lewis & Booth 1994; White & Heerwagen
1998; Galea et al. 2005). For example, Lewis and Booth (1994) found that urban
residents’ prevalence of psychiatric morbidity (33.7%) was higher than that of
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their rural counterparts (24.8%), after controlling for socioeconomic and other
extraneous variables. Income-related inequalities in health also depend on
exposure to green space. People who live in greener areas reported lower levels
of health inequality relating to income deprivation for both all-cause mortality
and mortality from circulatory diseases (Mitchell & Popham 2008).
A direct link between the amount of accessiblelocal green space and health has
also been evidenced using large-scale epidemiological studies (Takano et al.2002;
De Vries et al. 2003; Grahn & Stigsdotter 2003). In one, tree-lined streets, parks and
other greenspaces werefound to play a key role in longevity and decreased risk of
mental ill-health (Takano et al. 2002). This longitudinal study compared access to
local walkable green spaces and mortality rates in elderly residents of Tokyo,
Japan, over a period of five years. After controlling for demographic and socioeco-
nomic variables, they found that out of 3100 Tokyo citizens born between 1903
and 1918, 71% were still alive in 1992 and the probability of living for an
additional five years was linked to their ability to walk in a local park or tree-
lined street (Takano et al. 2002). However, although the study asked respondents to
assess the availability of walkable green spaces in their neighbourhood, they did
not establish how frequently these spaces were actually used for walking.
Self-reported health data from over 10 thousand Dutch respondents was
correlated with national environmental data characterising the type and quan-
tity of blue (e.g. rivers, lakes, canals) and green spaces present in their neigh-
bourhood. Socioeconomic and demographic characteristics were controlled for
selection effects and the study reported that people living in greener neigh-
bourhoods enjoyed better general health (De Vries et al. 2003). The type of green
space did not seem to alter effectiveness, but the total amount of green space in
the living environment seemed to be the most relevant predictor. A criticism
of the study is that the environmental characteristics were separated into
Box 9.1 Shared understanding of wellbeing
‘Wellbeing is a positive physical, social and mental state; it is not just the
absence of pain, discomfort and incapacity. It requires that basic needs are
met, that individuals have a sense of purpose, that they feel able to achieve
important personal goals and participate in society. It is enhanced by conditions
that include supportive personal relationships, strong and inclusive communities,
good health, financial and personal security, rewarding employment, and a
healthy and attractive environment. Government’s role is to enable people
to have a fair access now and in the future to the social, economic and
environmental resources needed to achieve wellbeing. An understanding
of the effect of policies on the way people experience their lives is important
for designing and prioritising them.’ Source: DEFRA 2007
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neighbourhoods and all individuals within that particular area were classed as
having equal access to green spaces. This crude measure does not acknowledge
that the exposure to green space may vary considerably between residents of
the same neighbourhood and that durations of exposure may also differ.
In a separate study, one in ten residents felt unhealthy when the majority of
the space surrounding their home was green (90%). In contrast, when only 10%
of the environment was green, 16% of the residents felt unhealthy (Maas et al.
2006). Groenewegen et al. (2006) have set up the ongoing ‘Vitamin G’ project,
aiming to build on previous research analysing the relationship between
the amount and type of green space and health and wellbeing. The project
has three different levels: (i) national Dutch data; (ii) green spaces in urban
environments; and (iii) allotment gardens. It combines land-use data and self-
reported health states. The findings are going to inform policy development,
aid urban planning and design, and raise awareness of the importance of local
green pockets.
Perceived neighbourhood greenness is also strongly associated with better
mental and physical health. Respondents who perceived their neighbourhood
as highly green were 1.37 and 1.60 times more likely to have better physical
and mental health respectively, in comparison with those who perceived it as
low in greenery (Sugiyama et al. 2008). The degree of species richness in urban
green spaces has also been positively associated with psychological wellbeing of
visitors (Fuller et al. 2007), emphasising the importance of locally managed
biodiversity for sense of place and reflection.
In terms of overall health, local park users reported fewer visits to a physician
for purposes other than routine check-ups in comparison with non-park users.
This difference was apparent even when controlling for the effects ofage, income,
education level, health status and other potential confounding variables (Godbey
et al. 1998). Frequently active park users also scored better on self-reported health
indices and perceived their health states to be better than passive users and non-
park users (Godbey et al. 1992). Thus, people engaging in leisure recreation in local
parks seem to be in disproportionately better health than non-users and are also
less likely to be obese than the general population (Ho et al. 2003).
Godbey and Blazey (1983) also investigated the leisure behaviour of adults
participating in light to moderate aerobic activity in urban parks and found
that over half reported better moods after visiting the park. More and Payne
(1978) also found that participants’ negative moods improved and that park
users reported lower levels of anxiety and depression. Often visitors started
their recreation experiences in a better mood and their positive moods
remained on leaving, implying that outdoor recreation and park use might
enhance positive moods, reduce negative ones and alleviate stress.
In a Swedish study, Grahn and Stigsdotter (2003) examined the relation-
ship between use of urban green spaces and health. They found that the level
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of self-reported stress experienced showed significant relationships with the
proximity of urban green spaces, visiting frequency and duration of stay. The
findings implied that the more frequent the visits, the lower the incidence of
stress-related illnesses. Having access to a public or privately owned garden
adjacent to their place of residence was another principal factor, which has
implications for both policy and urban landscape planning.
Improving behaviour and cognitive functioning
Parents of children experiencing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD) reported that participating in activities such as fishing or camping in
green spaces improved behaviour in 85% of cases. When watching television or
playing video games in indoor environments, behaviour improved in only 43%
of activities. In some indoor activities, behaviour actually deteriorated (57%)
and made the children less manageable (Taylor et al. 2001). Following on from
the ideas of attention restoration described earlier, Wells (2000) conducted a
longitudinal study with children of low-income urban families and assessed
the effects of nature on their cognitive functioning. When the families were
relocated to houses with more nature in the window view, they had higher
levels of cognitive functioning and their ability to direct attention continued
for several months after moving. However, these findings should be treated
with caution because it could be argued that these types of families were able
to select these types of preferred homes. Therefore, cause and effect can be
difficult to disentangle and decipher.
Facilitating social networking
Green space in the form of parks, streets, squares and allotments can be
valuable in urban areas for facilitating social contact (Coley et al. 1997; Ward
Thompson 2002) and giving rise to stronger neighbourhood ties (Kuo et al.
1998). Green spaces can also foster social inclusion, community development,
citizenship and local pride by allowing local residents to assist in the design,
management and care of local spaces (DLTR 2002). Activities in green places
often occur in social groups, or indeed people undertake activities in order to
interact with others. Social capital is thus a component whereby relations of
trust and reciprocity tied together by social norms and institutions can help
people engage in activities, link to particular places and remain mentally and
physically healthy. Social capital is also closely tied to capacity for collective
environmental management (Pretty & Smith 2004).
Several key studies researching the link between nature and social contact
have all involved the same USA study population (Coley et al. 1997; Kuo et al.
1998; Kweon et al. 1998). The ‘Robert Taylor Homes’ (RTH) are located in public
social housing communities in an underprivileged area of Chicago. They con-
stitute a naturally occurring field experiment as residents are randomly
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assigned to apartments, which are identical, with the exception of the quantity
of surrounding vegetation and greenness of common spaces. All other environ-
mental, cultural and social variables are held constant, and residents are socio-
economically homogeneous.
The presence of trees significantly increased the utilisation of public green
space by both adults and youths (Coley et al. 1997). The communal green spaces
provided opportunities for more face-to-face contacts and encouraged social
interaction. This led to stronger neighbourhood social ties, which were
assessed by the amount of socialising, contact with nearby neighbours and
local sense of community (Kuo et al. 1998). The greener areas promoted the
strongest neighbourhood social ties, although the reasons for visiting the
green spaces were not reported (e.g. requiring shade from trees in hot summer
months). In addition, the exposure time to communal green spaces was posi-
tively linked to social integration of elderly residents in the community (Kweon
et al. 1998). Outdoor spaces dominated by trees and grass had the greatest
effect, and active use of these spaces predicted the strength of neighbourhood
social ties and sense of community.
Facilitating green exercise activities
The term ‘green exercise’ stems from a programme of research which aims to
investigate the synergistic benefits of engaging in physical activities whilst
simultaneously being directly exposed to nature (Pretty et al. 2003; Barton
2009). Access to urban green spaces has been shown to promote healthy living
by encouraging participation in green exercise activities, such as walking,
jogging and cycling (Ross 2000; Berrigan & Troiano 2002; Craig et al. 2002;
Handy et al. 2002; Parks et al. 2003; Wendel-Vos et al. 2004; Bedimo-Rung et al.
2005; Godbey et al. 2005). However, the state and design of the surrounding
environment can either be conducive or restrictive to activity participation.
Socioeconomic variants in health outcomes are often determined by the imme-
diate environment and thus the individual’s behavioural preferences (Owen
et al. 2000). Typical physically active behaviours may include walking for
exercise or recreation, jogging or participating in a sporting activity, whereas
sedentary behaviours comprise sitting, socialising, spectating or dining. There-
fore, behaviour settings can potentially influence the level of activity experi-
enced and can either encourage or prohibit participation.
Large-scale Australian studies found that accessible public open spaces, such
as parks, were used more frequently for physical activity, although this effect
was significantly moderated by attractiveness and size (Giles-Corti & Donovan
2002; Giles-Corti et al. 2005). People with easy access to an attractive and large
public open space were 50% more likely to exceed physical activity recommen-
dations. Open spaces incorporating trees, water features and birdlife were
commonly used for walking or jogging (64%) and cycling (12%) activities.
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Other studies have reported the physically active behaviour of visitors to
parks (Scott 1997; Godbey et al. 1998; Raymore & Scott 1998; Tinsley et al. 2002).
The average visitor spends about half of their time walking when visiting a
park, and seven out of ten park visitors engage in moderate to vigorous levels of
physical activity (e.g. brisk walking, cycling, jogging; Godbey et al. 1998). Par-
ticipating in vigorous physical exercise was reported to be the most important
outcome for many park users (Tinsley et al. 2002). Other studies estimate that
7% of urban park users in England visit parks to engage in sporting activities,
such as football, bowls, golf and cycling (CABE Space 2004), which represents
7.5 million visitors per annum (Woolley 2003). Walking increases if the local
area is attractive and scenic, and if there are safe footpaths and pavements, a
diversity of land-use, easy access to public transport, a friendly neighbourhood
and ease of accessibility (Humpel et al. 2002; Bird 2004; Owen et al. 2004).
Landowners and managing agencies therefore have a role to play in delivering
these requirements to increase visitor numbers and activity levels.
Parks et al. (2003) demonstrated a dose–response relationship between
the number of places available for exercise within a neighbourhood and
the probability of meeting physical activity recommendations. The majority
of people who exercise choose to do so in their local park, thus indicating
that exercise frequency and park use are both associated with park proximity
(Cohen et al. 2007). Bedimo-Rung et al. (2005) propose a conceptual model
to describe the relationships between park characteristics, such as the number
of visits and physical activity levels within the park, park use and overall
benefits, including physical and psychological health, social, economic and
Residential environments with large amounts of green and minimal graffiti
and litter have been found to be associated with increased physical activity and
a reduced incidence of obesity (Ellaway et al. 2005). Residents of greener envir-
onments were 3.3 times as likely to participate in regular exercise compared
with those living in areas with nominal greenery. Although the study was cross-
sectional, the findings supported other research studies which also reported
improved physical health when good-quality, well-maintained public spaces
were easily accessible (CABE Space 2004). Thus, access to nature and green
spaces seem to play an important role in increasing physical activity levels in
urban communities.
Grahn and Stigsdotter (2003) suggest that urban citizens who live 50 m or
less from their nearest green space visit it three to four times per week. If the
distance is increased to 300 m, the number of visits reduces to an average of
2.7times per week. However, a distance of 1000 m reduces the number of visits
to only once a week. Residents of communities lacking greenery in their local
area do not compensate for this by visiting public parks or urban forests more
frequently, which highlights the importance of restoring and conserving
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nearby local green space. There are also physical, social or cultural barriers
which may restrict usage even when green space is available. Perceptions of
personal safety and fear of crime may discourage visits, along with cultural
barriers where people feel that they are not allowed to use the spaces.
Reducing levels of crime, aggression and violence
Kuo and Sullivan (2001a,b) have made compelling links between small
amounts of green in the urban environment of Chicago’s poorest public hous-
ing neighbourhood and crime, aggression and domestic violence. Vegetation
levels surrounding RTH homes were assessed by an independent panel using a
combination of photographs from a number of vantages. The assessment took
place in June when the grass was green and the tree canopy was in full leaf.
Residents living in greener surroundings reported lower levels of fear, fewer
incivilities and less generalised aggressive and violent behaviour. Buildings
with more vegetation also had 52% fewer property and violent crimes than
those with minimal vegetation. There is often a perception that well-vegetated
places offer more opportunities for criminals and drug-dealers to hide, so these
findings raise some interesting questions.
There was also a greater difference between buildings in non-green and
moderately green surroundings than between moderately and very green,
suggesting more of a benefit would accrue from a light greening of all urban
spaces rather than a dark greening of just a few. Indeed, well-maintained
vegetation may instigate new ways of thinking as local people start to care
for their environment and so are more vigilant (Kuo & Sullivan 2001a). Levels
of aggression and violence were also significantly higher for residents in
conditions lacking vegetation than for those who had access to nearby nature
(Kuo & Sullivan 2001b). Access to greener surroundings reduced aggression
by increasing concentration, which mediates the relationship between mental
fatigue and aggressive behaviour. Therefore, neighbourhood settings lacking
nearby nature and greenery had a significant impact on human social
functioning (Sullivan 2005).
Aesthetic value
Urban environments incorporating green spaces are perceived to be more
attractive than urban areas lacking vegetation (Sheets & Manzer 1991; Kuo
et al. 1998).
Visitors report a deep sense of personal satisfaction from experiencing the
aesthetic pleasures, such as ‘enjoying the changing seasons, feeling the sun,
the wind or the rain, being able to walk, run or just sit down and enjoy the
view’ (Burgess et al. 1988). Environmental aesthetics are also positively associ-
ated with walking for exercise. Compared with people who had access to a very
pleasing aesthetic environment, those reporting a moderately aesthetic
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environment were 16% less likely to walk for exercise, and those who only had
access to a low-rated aesthetic environment were 41% less likely to walk for
exercise (Ball et al. 2001). Research figures report that 85% of people questioned
believe that the quality of public space and the built environment directly
affects their lives and the way they feel (CABE Space 2002).
Providing an ‘outdoor classroom’
Urban green spaces also provide ‘outdoor classrooms’ to facilitate learning and
enhance knowledge of the natural world and local environment. Outdoor
classrooms are important for children (Moore & Wong 1997; Kahn & Kellert
2002; Rickinson et al. 2004), with creative social play, concentration and motor
ability positively influenced by play in green space (Taylor et al. 2001). However,
this evidence has not yet been strong enough to change the design of schools,
though the emergence of the forest school movement is an indication that
green space is being seen as a contributor to positive cognitive outcomes
(Bishops Wood Centre 2005).
Levels of engagement with nature
We posit three levels of engagement with nature leading to potentially differ-
ent outcomes: viewing nature, functional engagement, and active participation
(Figure 9.1).
1. Improves
2. Generates
physical health
3. Facilitates social
networking and
3 Levels of Engagement with Nature
(1) Viewing nature – from the window or in a painting
(2) Functional engagement – incidental exposure to
nearby nature whilst engaging in some other activity
(passive or active)
(3) Active participation – positive decision to visit
nature and green spaces to participate in an activity
and interact with nature
Healthier communities and avoided
public health costs
Figure 9.1 Three levels of engagement with nature.
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Viewing nature
Viewing nature through a window or in a photograph is an important way of
engaging with nature, when direct access is restricted. This type of passive
engagement allows the mind to digress and stimulates reflection and recovery,
aids recovery from illness, improves mood, reduces stress and improves mental
From the home
Kaplan and Austin (2004) and Kaplan (2001) used black and white photographs
of views from the home to explore the importance of differing levels of vegeta-
tion for residential satisfaction. Participants were asked how closely the char-
acteristics in the view represented the view from their own home and rated
their preferences. The most preferred scenes were predominantly nature views,
and trees were strongly associated with feelings of relaxation. Views of gardens,
flowers and landscaped areas played an important role in participants’ residen-
tial satisfaction but characteristics that were most favoured were also rated as
least available. Woodlands enhanced residents’ satisfaction with their sur-
roundings and contributed to the community and sense of peacefulness
(Kaplan & Austin 2004). However, there may be an element of response bias
as the participants were aware of the aim of the study and were self-selecting so
results may have been skewed.
The value of the view from a window is also reflected in monetary terms as
various studies have demonstrated increased economic value for housing and
hotels (Peiser & Schwann 1993). The presence of green space affects room pricing
policy in hotels in Zurich, Switzerland (Lange & Schaeffer 2001), and increases
the value of homes with gardens overlooking lakes and paths in the Netherlands
by 25% (Luttick 2000). Street trees in Berlin, Germany, increase real-estate value
by 17% (Luther & Gruehn 2001), and the value of housing near to water is greater
in Merseyside, UK (Wood & Handley 1999; Lindsey et al. 2004).
From the workplace
Windows present in the workplace can buffer the stresses of work and reduce
the frequency of illness, headaches and frustration, and improve patience and
enthusiasm for work (Leather et al. 1998; Kaplan 2001). Workers with views of
trees and flowers have been shown to feel less stressed in their jobs and to
derive greater job satisfaction than workers overlooking built environments
(Kaplan 1993). A similar study also reported that natural views buffered the
negative impact of job stress on intention to resign (Leather et al. 1998). People
working in windowless workplaces were four times more likely to compensate
by displaying pictures of landscapes and outdoor natural scenes or indoor
plants (Heerwagen & Orians 1993).
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From institutions
Two classic and widely cited studies from the 1980s (Moore 1982; Ulrich 1984)
suggest that prolonged exposure to window views of nature can have import-
ant health-related consequences. The first found that prisoners in Michigan,
USA, whose cells overlooked farmland and forests reported 24% fewer sick cell
visits compared with those in cells facing the prison yard. Cells were randomly
allocated so the findings implied a stress reduction effect. The second ‘classic’
study exploited the configuration of a hospital in Pennsylvania, USA, where
rooms in the surgical section overlooked deciduous trees or a brick wall. It
formed a 10-year comparative study of post-operative patients who had under-
gone identical surgical procedures. Patients were randomly assigned a room
which only differed in its view from the window. The hospital stay for those
patients with tree views was significantly shorter (7.96 days per patient com-
pared with 8.70); they also required fewer painkillers and took less strong or
moderate pain medication. Nursing staff also reported fewer negative com-
ments in the medical records for those with the tree views (1.13 per patient
compared with 3.96).
Whilst travelling
The view during the commute to work (e.g. the type and quality of roadside
verges) can also influence levels of stress. Participants in one study were
exposed to four different simulated types of roadside corridors: rural, urban,
golf course or mixed (lots of vegetation but visible commercial buildings;
Parsons et al. 1998). There was some evidence that those on the urban drive,
dominated by human artefacts, had higher levels of skin conductance, facial
muscle tension and blood pressure compared with other settings. Restoration
of standard heart rate readings was faster and more complete after viewing
scenes of golf courses. Viewing nature-prevalent drives of forests or golf courses
facilitated stress recovery quicker than urban settings. In addition, the nature
drives offered a protective effect against the negative consequences of future
stresses that might have arisen during the working day, implying that there
might be an immunisation effect (Parsons et al. 1998).
Using simulated scenes of being in nature
A number of studies have explored the effects of viewing simulated scenes of
being in nature by conducting experiments in laboratories. This setting allows
the limitation of potentially confounding variables and often participants have
been attentionally fatigued, using a variety of demanding mental tests, prior to
viewing a series of slides. Photographic simulations have predominantly com-
pared natural settings (e.g. green spaces, forests, woods, open countryside) with
contrasting urban scenes lacking nature. Stress reduction qualities of these
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differential environments have been assessed using a combination of physio-
logical (blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol, tension) and psychological meas-
ures (e.g. self reports of emotion, concentration or mood).
Nature slides incorporating water or vegetation were consistently preferred
to grey urban scenes lacking greenery and had a more positive effect on
emotional states (Ulrich 1981; Hartig et al. 1996). The natural settings sustained
attention more effectively, and for stressed or excessively aroused participants
they offered the greatest opportunity for stress reduction, with blood pressure,
muscle tension and skin conductance levels all reducing during recovery
(Ulrich et al. 1991). Participants’ heart rate recordings decreased whilst viewing
the nature video, whereas participants viewing the urban environments did
not report any change (Laumann et al. 2003). Therefore, this implies that
natural settings have a relaxing effect on autonomic functions. Recovery was
also faster when exposed to natural environments, which supports the theory
that nature exposures of short duration are important in urbanised societies.
When coloured slides depicting cityscapes with designated green spaces were
introduced, positive effect scores were significantly higher compared with no
greenery (Honeyman 1992).
Van den Berg et al. (2003) analysed the relationship between restorative
potential and environmental preference. Participants viewed a frightening
movie followed by either a video simulating a nature-based walk or a walk in
a built environment. Greater improvements in mood and concentration were
reported after viewing natural settings compared with viewing built environ-
ments, and the natural settings were perceived as more beautiful and restora-
tive. Higher levels of stress were associated with stronger preferences for
natural scenes and less liking for urban settings. Berto (2005) explored restora-
tive environments’ ability to facilitate recovery from mental fatigue by analys-
ing the relationship with increased attention performance. Mentally fatigued
subjects were exposed to either nature scenes (restorative) or urban streets
(non-restorative), and only subjects who viewed the natural scenes regained
sufficient attention capacity to perform well in a secondary task.
A study at the University of Essex, UK, tested the physiological and psycho-
logical health benefits of exercising on a treadmill whilst being exposed to a
series of rural or urban photographic scenes (Pretty et al. 2005). Each of these
was subdivided into pleasant and unpleasant categories in order to explore the
effect of rural scenes compromised with pollutants or other visual impedi-
ments (e.g. rubbish, abandoned cars, billboards or pipes carrying effluents)
and urban scenes enhanced by the presence of nearby nature in the form of
green space. A control group was included which involved exercising without
exposure to images. Only those subjects viewing rural pleasant scenes experi-
enced significant decreases in mean arterial blood pressure (Figure 9.2). The
urban pleasant pictures had no effect on mean arterial blood pressure, whilst
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the urban unpleasant slightly increased it. All participants viewing rural pleas-
ant pictures experienced a reduction in their mean arterial blood pressure
compared with only 60% of people when exposed to the other picture condi-
tions. As control subjects experienced a slight decrease in blood pressure, it is
clear that both pleasant and unpleasant urban scenes increased blood pressure
relative to the controls. The urban scenes therefore appear effectively to negate
the marginal, but potentially beneficial impact of exercise on blood pressure.
Self-esteem significantly improved in all five groups, but the control group
produced a greater improvement in self-esteem than the two unpleasant treat-
ments (rural and urban), implying that the latter have a depressive effect on
self-esteem relative to exercise alone. Both pleasant treatments, however, pro-
duced the greatest increases in self-esteem (Figure 9.3). When viewing both
urban and rural pleasant scenes, levels of self-esteem increased by 10% and 9%
respectively. This was in comparison with a 7.5% increase after viewing no
pictures and only a 4% increase after viewing unpleasant pictures.
For the six measures of mood, viewing rural pleasant scenes during exercise
produced consistent, though not always significant, improvements relative to
viewing other scenes. Viewing urban pleasant scenes also resulted in improve-
ments in all six mood measures. Unexpectedly, exercise whilst viewing urban
unpleasant scenes produced significant improvements for anger-hostility, con-
fusion-bewilderment and tension-anxiety. However, the rural unpleasant
scenes had the most differentiated effect on mood measures. There were
negative effects on three mood states, the most for any type of scene. This
suggests that views embodying threats to the countryside have a greater nega-
tive effect on mood than already urban unpleasant scenes.
Figure 9.2 Change in mean arterial blood pressure after treadmill exercise whilst
viewing different scenes on a projector (change in MABP normalised to the starting
average for all five groups). See text for details.
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Functional engagement
The second category of engagement is more functional and often involves
incidentally being in the presence of nearby nature, whilst primarily engaging
in another activity. The nature setting acts as background scenery for
social activities such as walking the dog, cycling to work through an urban
park, reading on a garden seat, or talking to friends in a park (Hayashi et al.
1999; Ulrich 1999). One of the first longitudinal studies conducted over a
decade targeted poorly functioning impoverished neighbourhoods undergoing
environmental improvements (Dalgard & Tambs 1997). The mental health
states of the residents were initially quite poor, but significant improvements
were reported post-intervention for those residents still present. Therefore,
selective migration was not the reason for this outcome, indicating that
health parameters could be positively influenced by changes in environmental
A study at the University of Essex assessed changes in local people’s behavi-
our and health measures following ecological restoration of local green spaces
at three urban sites in the UK (urban park, canal and coastal path; Peacock et al.
2005, 2006). Prior to the restoration process all three sites were often unused,
but transforming these areas created new opportunities for outdoor recreation
and contact with nature and green space. Ecological restoration processes
involved re-landscaping grassland, creating a wetland environment, improving
biodiversity and improving canal towpaths and coastal paths. A higher propor-
tion of users visited the locations for all of the reasons listed post-restoration
Error bars 1 Standard error
*p< 0.05, **p< 0.01, ***p< 0.001
Rural pleasant
Rural unpleasant
Urban pleasant
Urban unpleasant
Index of Self-Esteem
Figure 9.3 Change in self-esteem after treadmill exercise whilst viewing different
scenes on a projector (change in self-esteem normalised to the starting average
for all five groups). NB: High score ¼low self-esteem. See text for details.
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(Figure 9.4). However, significant differences were found for exercise, meeting
family or friends, health, scenery and wildlife. The restored sites attracted new
visitors and many more users were now choosing to visit the sites to view the
scenery and wildlife and interact with the environment .
Although the environmental improvements encouraged more people to visit
the sites, they also visited more frequently and spent longer engaging with
nature on each visit (Table 9.1). During a 4-week period before restoration, a
total of 133 users visited the sites 1535 times, which equates to an average of
11.5 visits per person per month. However, following restoration of the sites, a
total of 150 people visited the sites 2007 times during an equivalent period of
Reasons for visit
Before (%)
After (%)
Significance tested
with the McNemar test
(*p< 0.05; ***p< 0.001)
0 10203040506070
For exercise***
Walking the dog
Health–walking, fresh air etc.***
On the way to somewhere else
Meet family or friends*
Never visited before improvements
Figure 9.4 Primary reasons users visited sites before and after completion of ecological
restoration projects. See text for details.
Table 9.1 A comparison of the number and duration of visits before and after
restoration at three sites (see text for details).
Before After Increase (%)
No. of visitors 133 150 12.8
No. of visits per month 1535 2007 30.8
No. of visits per person per month 11.5 13.4 15.9
No. of visitors 129 144 11.6
Total time spent at site for all users during one 4580 6068 32.5
Average time spent at site per person (mins) 35.5 42.1 18.7
Total time spent at site per person per month (mins) 410 564 37.6
Note: A month refers to a 4-week period; the numbers of visitors do not match as calculations
do not include those who had never visited before the improvements or who had not completed
both sections of the questionnaire.
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time. This equates to an average of 13.4 visits per person per month and
represents a significant increase ( p<0.0001).
On average, users were spending 35.5 minutes exploring the sites on each
visit prior to restoration. Following the environmental improvements, this
figure increased to 42.2 minutes and the total time spent at the sites per person
per month increased by 154.2 minutes, representing a significant increase of
37.6% (p<0.0001).
A significant improvement in self-esteem was found when comparing
arrival scores with departing scores (p<0.05). Thus, those individuals who
had been participating in physical activity for longer within the green sur-
roundings reported an improved self-esteem score. A positive correlation
between reported self-esteem scores and the length of time exercising within
the environment was found (p<0.0001) (Figure 9.5). This implies that the
longer people spend exercising in urban green areas, the more their self-esteem
Active participation
The third category of engagement with nature is referred to as ‘active partici-
pation’. This differs from the second category as it implies a positive decision to
visit nature and green spaces and directly participate in an activity, such as
gardening, walking, mountaineering, running, cycling or water-based activ-
ities. Studies often use psychophysiological measures to compare walking in
urban nature parks to city streets. Findings have suggested that nature groups
report more positively toned emotional states, higher happiness scores, higher
ratings of positive effect, markedly better cognitive performance scores (Hartig
Index of self-esteem
Length of time exercising (mins)
R2= 0.1104
0 10203040506070
Figure 9.5 Relationship between the length of time exercising at restored sites and
self-esteem scores. NB: High score ¼low self-esteem. See text for details.
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et al. 1991), a greater ability to reflect on problems (Mayer et al. 2006) and
improved directed attention abilities (Berman et al. 2008).
Other studies have included ambulatory blood pressure measurements
during walks in both nature reserves and urban areas with minimal landscap-
ing after sitting in a room with different views (Hartig et al. 2003). Sitting in a
room with tree views promoted more rapid diastolic blood pressure decline
than sitting in a windowless room. Walking in a nature reserve reduced blood
pressure more than walking along an urban, non-green street. After 20 minutes
of walking, the mean blood pressure values differed significantly between the
two settings, before the difference converged. This is probably because the
benefits of the exercise (the walk itself) started to surpass any unpleasantness
of the urban street. In both contexts, the green room and green walk, people
recovered more rapidly from attention-demanding tasks, regardless of antece-
dent condition. There were no significant differences in blood pressure read-
ings post environmental treatment, but there were visible effects on emotion.
The walk in the natural setting increased positive effect and reduced feelings of
anger/aggression, while the opposite occurred in the urban setting.
Research has also analysed runners’ cognitions and moods whilst exercising
in different settings (Bodin & Hartig 2003; Butryn & Furst 2003). A 1-hour run
through a nature reserve dominated by greenery, water and pleasant views was
compared with an urban route through sidewalks and streets with varying
traffic volumes and many buildings (Bodin & Hartig 2003). Running in a nature
reserve promoted emotional restoration more effectively than exercising in
the urban environment, although there were no significant differences in the
reduction in anxiety/depression and anger between the two conditions. The
low level of statistical power may have contributed to this, as there were only
12 runners. However, runners did state their preference for the nature reserve
as they perceived it to be more psychologically restorative. Butryn and Furst
(2003) also examined the effects of natural parks and urban settings on mood,
feeling states and cognitive strategies of non-elite female runners. Mood and
feeling states significantly increased following both runs, irrespective of set-
ting, but the natural vegetation park setting was overwhelmingly preferred
(93%) by the runners. Pre-run moods were elevated, perhaps in anticipation of
the run or from accumulated benefits from participation in regular runs.
Therefore, there was minimal room for improvement.
Mood change and stress during recreation in an urban park was also com-
pared to indoor leisure activities (Hull & Michael 1995). Findings suggested that
anxiety and energy levels decreased with time spent at the park but changes in
fatigue and calmness were minimal. A more recent study conducted by the
University of Essex assessed the role the environment plays in the effectiveness
of exercise for mental wellbeing with members of local Mind groups. Mind is a
mental health charity based in England and Wales and provides support for
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individuals experiencing mental distress. It provides numerous services to all
of its members through a network of local Mind associations. Local Mind
members participated in both a green outdoor urban walk (Belhus Woods
Country Park) and an indoor shopping-mall walk (Lakeside shopping centre),
both of which were of the same duration and intensity and led by the same
person, to ensure consistency of personality.
Improvements in self-esteem (p<0.05) and overall mood (p<0.01) were sig-
nificantly greater following the green outdoor urban walk than following
the equivalent indoor walk (Mind 2007; Peacock et al. 2007). Figure 9.6 com-
pares the significant changes in self-esteem after both walks, highlighting the
positive improvement after the green outdoor urban walk and the negative
effect after the indoor walk. Figure 9.7 illustrates the significant changes in the
subscale mood factors after both of the walks (anger, confusion, depression and
tension). Participants felt significantly less angry ( p<0.05), confused (p<0.05),
depressed (p<0.05) and tense (p<0.01) after the outdoor green urban walk and
felt more confused and tense after the indoor walk.
The findings show that exercising outdoors in a green environment is a lot
more effective in enhancing mood and improving self-esteem than the equiva-
lent amount of exercise indoors. The enjoyment of engaging in green exercise
activities in groups was a valuable part of the experience, as well as the
opportunity to breathe in fresh air, admire the scenery and enjoy the wildlife.
The findings add significant value to the ever expanding green exercise
research programme as they focus on individuals experiencing mental health
issues and separate the elements that constitute the green exercise experience.
Index of self-esteem
Indoor shopping-mall
Green outdoor urban
park walk
Error bars 1 Standard error
*p< 0.05, **p< 0.01, ***p< 0.001
Type of walk
Figure 9.6 The change in self steem following participation in both walks (change
in self-esteem normalised to the starting average for both groups). NB: High score ¼low
self-esteem. See text for details.
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Index of anger
Indoor shopping-mall
Green outdoor urban
park walk
Type of walk
Indoor shopping-mall
Type of walk
Index of confusion
Green outdoor urban
park walk
Index of depression
40 Indoor shopping-mall
Type of walk
Green outdoor urban
park walk
Indoor shopping-mall
Type of walk
Index of tension
Green outdoor urban
park walk
Figure 9.7 The change in feelings following participation in walks. (a) anger; (b) confusion; (c) depression; (d) tension (change in self-esteem
normalised to the starting average for both groups). Error bars ¼1 standard error; *p<0.05, ** p<0.01. See text for details.
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Being part of a social group contributes to the green exercise experience, so it
is important to compare different group activities to ascertain the importance of
the exercise and the contact with nature. A study at the University of Essex
therefore evaluated the effectiveness of introducing a 6-week green exercise
programme (a series of short countryside and urban park walks) for individuals
experiencing a range of mental health problems. The walking group was com-
pared to two other Mind group programmes which were already in existence,
including a swimming group (indoor exercise) and a social club (met indoors,
but did not participate in any form of exercise). Key findings were that all groups
experienced a significant improvement in self-esteem, but the change in self-
esteem was significantly greater in the green exercise group than in the social
group. All three groups also experienced a significant improvement in overall
mood, and feelings of anger, confusion, depression, fatigue and tension all
decreased more in the green exercise and swimming groups compared with
the social club. These findings imply that participating in exercise is the primary
driver in positively enhancing mood, although engaging in sedentary social
activities can also still contribute to an improved mood, highlighting the import-
ance of the social contact. Thus, encouraging people to interact with green space
and be active outdoors has a potentially therapeutic role in positively influ-
encing emotional and physical wellbeing (Peacock et al. 2008).
Concluding implications
The central themes emerging from the research are that regular contact with
urban green spaces improves human health and wellbeing. It improves phys-
ical health by providing opportunities for recreation and green exercise activ-
ities. Provision of green spaces encourages cycling and walking to move in and
between spaces, instead of relying predominantly on cars, which has numerous
health and environmental implications. It enhances psychological health by
creating a restorative environment which helps to reduce stress and encourage
relaxation. It affords spiritual connections which ensure people start to care
about their surrounding environment and influences behaviour by providing a
space people will choose to visit more frequently to engage in healthy activ-
ities. Urban green spaces also improve social cohesion by encouraging greater
social and cultural interaction, community empowerment and sense of place,
leading to better community spirit and neighbourhood social ties. Green areas
promote social inclusion, generate citizenship and local pride and contribute
towards reduced levels of crime and violence.
However, many of the daily settings to which people are regularly exposed
are highly dissimilar to the landscapes that shaped human evolution (Sullivan
2005). So, what happens to the health of residents in urban areas lacking access
to nature and green spaces? The United Kingdom, for example, is becoming an
increasingly urbanised society, and by definition urban areas enjoy less access
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to nature and green space than rural environments. Some of this will be by
choice, as urban areas have more services and jobs concentrated together, with
better access to schools, hospitals, recreational facilities and other services.
However, disconnection from nature can impose new health costs by affecting
psychological wellbeing and reducing the opportunity for recovery from
mental stresses or physical tensions (Pretty et al. 2004).
The benefits of urban green spaces extend beyond ecosystem service provi-
sion and biodiversity conservation to have real impact on the physical and
psychological health and wellbeing of local residents. Yet the development of
‘urban sprawl’ is compromising public health (Frumkin et al. 2004) as housing
rapidly diffuses into green areas and competes for land. Expanding populations
as well as changing family demographics are also putting pressure on land for
housing developments within the urban envelope and on its fringes. Recent
research has found that provision of urban green space is more dependent on
city area than on the number of inhabitants (Fuller & Gaston 2009). This
implies that the green space provision per capita is very low in small cities of
high-density, which affects residents’ quality of life.
Grahn and Stigsdotter (2003) found that urban citizens who live very close to
green space visit it three to four times per week. But at a distance of 1 km
the number of visits falls to only one per week. Natural England’s Accessible
Natural Greenspace Standards (ANGSt) model requires that no one should live
more than 300 m from their nearest green space (or 5 minutes’ walk) to ensure
they have the opportunity for exercise, relaxation and wellbeing (Handley et al.
2003), but what percentage of the population actually meet this recommenda-
tion? Harrison et al. (1995) recommend that local nature reserves should be
provided in every urban area, with a minimum of 1 hectare per 1000 people.
Local accessible green spaces should also be at least 2 hectares in size (Handley
et al. 2003), but how far are we from reaching this target?
The findings relating to accessibility to local green spaces across different
social groups vary. Some report inaccessibility issues for young people, low-
income groups, ethnic minorities and disabled people (CRN 2001; Natural
England et al. 2006), whose participation in outdoor recreation remains low.
Bedimo-Rung et al. (2005) also report that older adults, ethnic minorities,
women and lower-income families are more likely to visit parks infrequently
or be non-users. But other evidence suggests that the most deprived groups and
older people enjoy the greatest access (Barbosa et al. 2007). However, the
importance of locally accessible green spaces remains essential for all cohorts,
especially those enjoying the least access. In today’s modern society character-
ised by high stress, sedentary lifestyles, rising obesity problems, poor mental
health states and disconnection from nature, there is a new challenge: to find
ways to develop more local green spaces and improve accessibility to encourage
people to visit them on a more regular basis.
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A recent report by CABE indicated that ‘91% of people believe that public parks
and open spaces improve their quality of life’. However, one in five people think
that it is ‘not worth investing money in the upkeep and maintenance of local
parks and public open spaces because they will just get vandalised’ (CABE Space
2005). A major concern is that neglected parks attract antisocial behaviour, yet
case studies show that often those marginalised and perceived as being a social
problem (e.g. disaffected young people, homeless) have become positively
involved in transforming space and managing its upkeep. Research suggests that
regular park use may result in long-term benefits for health and wellbeing, as
the combined benefits of engaging in physical activities and being exposed to the
green environment may have a cumulative effect on individuals. Therefore, the
approaches that researchers and practitioners use to increase local park and
recreation usage to achieve optimal health are becoming increasingly important.
Exposure to urban green spaces also enhances education by providing an
‘outdoor classroom’ for children to learn about nature and the culture and
heritage of communities. It provides them with the opportunity to learn about
the natural world in their local environment, engage in creative play and
improve their ecological consciousness. Research has indicated that childhood
exposure to nature and the frequency of visits to green places at a young
age correlate with adult patterns of behaviour. Infrequent woodland or green
space experiences as a child correlate with a lower frequency of visits during
adulthood. ‘Interestingly, not visiting as a child is more predictive of not visiting
as an adult than vice versa’ (Ward Thompson et al. 2008). The lack of outdoor
experiences during childhood may hinder desires to visit such places as adults to
engage in physical activity or benefit from its emotional restorative qualities.
Green spaces are often associated with an increased likelihood of exercise,
even without actively promoting the health benefits. The outdoor environment
therefore exerts a direct influence on the probability of taking leisure-based
physical activity and other specific sporting activities. The infrastructure of
vehicle-free routes and green open spaces allows more people, irrespective of
their social and economic circumstances, easily and safely to enjoy a countryside
experience close to their home. A more accessible and attractive rural–urban
fringe provides respite from the daily stresses of urban living and affords
opportunities for recreational activities such as walking, cycling, horse riding
or just relaxing. It also meets a demand for more adventurous sport and water-
based leisure activities on rivers and canals as well as making use of disused
gravel pits and quarries for fishing and angling. Encouraging more people to
engage in a range of recreation activities and interact with nature in the
rural–urban fringe will improve physical and mental health states, resulting
in reduced costs for both society and the economy. Activities in these areas can
serve the needs of both the rural and urban communities contributing towards
a more sustainable environment (Countryside Agency and Groundwork 2004).
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... For example, urban restoration may focus on open parks [7], remnant restoration [8], riparian plantings [9] or rewilding gardens and infrastructure [10]. Urban ecological restoration objectives also differ with scale [2] but generally include biodiversity conservation, improving nature connectedness and wellbeing [11], and mitigating extreme weather events such as flooding [12]. In China and the United States, habitat restoration is also frequently employed to compensate for urban development [13,14]. ...
Full-text available
Identifying appropriate restoration strategies is vital for successful urban remnant restoration, but projects often lack consistent methods that distinguish them. In New Zealand, there are unique opportunities to restore depleted Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (A.Rich.) de Laub. (kahikatea, white pine) semi-swamp forest remnants in numerous urban centres. To assess potential restoration strategies for three kahikatea remnants in Hamilton City, we compared their physical features, native vascular species composition, age structures, life forms and epiphytes with a notional reference site (Te Papanui). Numerous native vascular species gaps are revealed among Te Papanui (66 species), Totara Park (40 species), Hillcrest Park (15 species) and Grove Park (nine species). Age structure analyses suggest that Hillcrest Park comprises the oldest kahikatea population, with an average age of 82 years, followed by Grove Park (70 years), Te Papanui (60 years) and Totara Park (32 years). A native floristic analysis of thirteen life forms found that Te Papanui contains the most (11), followed by Totara Park (eight), Grove Park (six) and Hillcrest Park (five). Despite the abundance of invasive plants at Totara Park, its high-water table and favourable humid, sheltered conditions support more epiphytes (nine) than Te Papanui (six), Hillcrest Park (one; Pyrrosia eleagnifolia), and Grove Park (none). Epiphytes absent from Te Papanui found at Totara Park may be due to the loss of the once abundant tree fern and host, Dicksonia squarrosa (whekī). Totara Park requires careful manipulation of troublesome weeds, whereas Hillcrest Park and Grove Park necessitate buffer extensions and native understory plantings. This study provides a simple framework that uses biophysical differences among urban remnants and a reference site to reveal suitable restoration strategies that could guide other urban restoration projects regionally and nationally.
... An extensive literature review indicates that concurrently designing for carbon sequestration and habitat provisioning can contribute to regenerating and revitalizing ecosystems by reducing climate change impacts or increasing resilience to them, and creating symbiotic urban co-habitation opportunities that cater to the needs of both humans and other living species [9,[13][14][15][16][17]. There is also unambiguous evidence that this ecosystem-based approach can contribute to improving human health and well-being directly through improved ecosystem health [18][19][20]. The most common architecture-centric manifestation of a carbon/habitat design approach is design that creates building-integrated vegetation and green areas on and around buildings, which are suitable for both carbon sequestration and habitat provisioning. ...
Full-text available
Carbon sequestration (CS) and habitat provisioning (HP) through building-integrated vegetation are interlinked approaches that could potentially reduce climate change and biodiversity loss attributed to the built environment. However, a practical approach is required to integrate CS and HP into building design. A two-stage approach was undertaken in this research; firstly, preparing a conceptual framework from an extensive literature review and, secondly, gauging the perspective of building industry experts on that framework through a survey. The survey was designed to determine expert opinion related to establishing the data gathering approaches, progressing to identifying strategies and methods to quantify them, and finally, monitoring performance indicators for achieving CS and HP goals. The results of descriptive analyses performed after data collection indicate a notable difference in opinions between built environment professionals (group A) and environmental scientists and researchers (group B). The findings indicate that respondents emphasized maintaining vegetation in order to maximize CS rates and biodiversity levels. Moreover, spatial ecology considerations, including landscape-level parameters (vegetative area coverage, habitat availability, quality, and connectivity) and species-specific parameters (species selection based on their CS rates and habitat requirements for keystone species), must be analyzed while designing buildings for vegetation-based CS and HP.
... 'Well-being' is a multi-faceted notion based on a variety of factors such as satisfaction of material, physical, affective and psychological needs [6]. Furthermore, most people associate well-being with just feeling good. ...
Conference Paper
Urban Green spaces in cities protect the environment by reducing urban heat stress, reducing global warming potential gases, and reducing storm water runoff. The high rate of urbanisation, which has resulted in encroachment, use change, and other factors that have a negative impact on healthy living and wellbeing. The main objectives of this research are to study and select different typology for the study of urban green spaces and also analyse the major link between the urban green spaces which are impacting the healthy living of housing typology. We used peer-reviewed approaches, which included searching the Web of Science, Scopus Index, and PubMed databases for literature research, and then reviewing peer-reviewed publications. The findings imply that urban green spaces are important for city dwellers. Because it ties greater and more regular usage of green space to healthy living, good quality green space, and well-being, the study has social consequences.
... Casual observation of people at Wigan Flashes suggests that these visitors are engaging with the site in different ways. Barton & Pretty (2010) describe three levels of engagement with natureviewing nature, functional engagement and active participation -leading to potentially different outcomes. Keniger et al. (2013), in their review, recognize the same three categories but use different names. ...
... Biophilia's (Wilson, 1993;Tidball, 2012) role in wellbeing is increasingly examined through the concept of nature connectedness (Capaldi et al., 2014;Cleary et al., 2017), alongside self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2000), which differentiates intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Other explanations for wellbeing/greenspace relationships hypothesize that natural environments are lower in environmental "bads" such as air pollution (MacKerron and Mourato, 2013), and greenspaces encourage positive behaviors (Barton and Pretty, 2010). Being outdoors in greenspace can allow for physical activity and increase social contact, both of which can positively affect psychosocial wellbeing (Fox, 1999;Kawachi and Berkman, 2001;Houlden et al., 2018). ...
Full-text available
As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has unfolded, the media is increasingly recognizing the value of urban nature, with greenspace use increasing. In cities, where people often lack access to private greenspaces, parks and other urban greenspaces offer opportunities for exercise and physically distanced socializing. Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of urban greenspaces to both physical and mental health, during times of relative stability. Here, we seek to examine how people's responses to greenspace are affected by a global pandemic, which uniquely affects both physical movements and mental wellbeing in the population at large. We compare tweets focused on nature- and greenspace-related keywords and hashtags from March to July 2019 with tweets from the same period in 2020 for metropolitan regions in the United States. We also examine the influence of stay-at-home restrictions in 2020. These posts reinforce findings from conventional survey approaches showing that people's relationship to greenspace is multifaceted. Furthermore, the results of our pre–post analysis of people's outdoor use suggest that the pandemic has had a differential impact on these multifaceted dimensions of people's engagement with nature. By applying a multidimensional construct of wellbeing, we identify Positive emotion, Positive relationships , and Meaning as subfactors of wellbeing that potentially can be increased by urban nature. These findings are important in demonstrating that greenspace in cities played a critical role in individuals' resilience and wellbeing during the early months of the pandemic and highlighting the need for maintaining and expanding access to urban greenspaces in the future, for the benefit of all city residents.
... In a reduced form of improving the urban environment, efforts were made to develop parks and open natural reserves for the wellbeing and functioning of urban residents (Barbosa et al. 2007; Barton and Pretty 2010). The serious and most immediate environmental problems facing urban areas are the health impacts of urban pollution that create from inadequate water, sanitation, drainage, and solid waste services, poor urban and industrial waste management, and air pollution, especially from particulates (Berhanu and Akola 2016;Manderso 2018). ...
Full-text available
Lack of integration between urban environmental planning and solid waste management is a challenge for cities in developing countries. The aim of the research was to analyze the nexus between local communities’ perceptions of urban environmental planning and solid waste management practices in Debre Markos Town, Northwest Ethiopia. The study applied a binary logistic regression approach to identify the factors that influence local communities’ perceptions about urban environmental planning and solid waste management practices. Results show that education level, family size, income and availability of safe disposal sites are statistically significant (either at P < 0.01 or P < 0.05) predictors of local communities’ perceptions. The challenges and prospects of urban environmental management were varied and rated from least to very big by respondents. Lack of commitment is reported at 41% as a very big challenge and at 43% as a big challenge of urban environmental management. The paper concludes by proposing proper implementation of the integration of solid waste management and urban environmental planning for sustainable urban development.
... Green infrastructure as green space play an important role and have a positive correlation between health and well-being highlighted by several researchers in his studies (Bauduceau et al., 2015;Dunn, 2010;Georgi et al., 2016;Hartig & Kahn, 2016;Mackerron & Mourato, 2013;Naumann et al., 2011;Shanahan et al., 2015;WHO, 2015bWHO, , 2015aWHO, , 2016Young, 2011) and have concluded that urban blue (water)and green spaces provide several ecological, environmental, economic, socio-cultural benefits to the countries. These refers to the benefits human residents come from ecosystems (Barton & Pretty, 2010;Bolund & Hunhammar, 1999;Lundy & Wade, 2011;Mackerron & Mourato, 2013;Morris, 2003;Pataki et al., 2010;Termorshuizen & Opdam, 2009;Tzoulas et al., 2007). ...
Full-text available
Purpose: This paper tries to find out the current progress of subjective developed and developing countries regarding green economy development. Research Methodology: This paper uses a graphical radar approach to show countries' overall performance toward the green economy. Results: This paper concluded that developed countries are ahead of developing in terms of current health expenditure, large forest area and tons of national parks. However, they are on the same page in terms of pollution, whether it is air or solid. Limitations: Several elements restrict this study. The study is carried out in chosen underdeveloped countries and developed ones. The position of the countries is therefore restricted. Consequently, the results and outputs may not apply to geographical sites. Because of unavailability, this study sample may not be sufficient. Contribution: This study will benefit both developed and developing countries by providing a clear understanding and scenario about the green economy, well-being, and green infrastructure. The findings of this study will be beneficial to institutions, researchers, politicians, the government, and others. Governments and government agencies can plan and promote their strategies and policies to understand green infrastructure and its impact on human health clearly. This study further extends the literature on the green economy and provides a new way of measuring it through its different components. Furthermore, this study can help explain where we stand right now and where we should set sail to.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic brought about significant changes in urban mobility and the city usage patterns. This paper elaborates the effect of lockdown measures on the pedestrian and bicycle use of urban green spaces in Belgrade, Serbia (May 6-September 29, 2020). Mobile Limitless Application and bicycle counters data from thousands of pedestrian and bicycle users were used to detect spatial and temporal changes in activities. It is estimated that outdoor pedestrian activity increased by 23% from the beginning of COVID-19 safety measures implementation, compared to an average detected during the last 2 years in the same time frame. Both pedestrians and cyclists intensified activities on lanes within green areas or along them. Finally, pedestrian and bicycle mobility have increased in urban parks, peri-urban forests and riverbank pedestrian lanes, emphasizing the importance of access to green open spaces, especially during the COVID-19 distress.
An overview of the evidence that contact with nature can benefit people's health and well-being.
There is enormous interest in urban design and the regeneration of our urban areas, but current thinking often concentrates on the built form, forgetting the important role that open spaces play. Urban Open Spaces brings together extensive research and practical experience to prove the opportunities and benefits of different types of open space to society and individuals. Focusing on the importance of open spaces in daily urban life, the book is divided into three sections. The first section describes the social, health, environmental and economic benefits and opportunities that open spaces can provide. The second section discusses the different types of urban open spaces that individuals or communities might use on a daily basis: from private gardens to commercial squares and waterway corridors. The final section provides best practice case-studies demonstrating urban spaces being incorporated in new developments and community initiatives. This is the first book to bring together a variety of evidence from different disciplines to outline the benefits and opportunities of urban open spaces in an accessible way. Not just for students and practitioners, this book will be of value for anyone interested in the design, development, regeneration, funding and use of open spaces in urban areas.
In an exploratory study of emotions in recreation, visitors to three Audubon nature centers in Massachusetts completed a questionnaire to measure their moods at the beginning and at the end of their on-site visits. Entering levels of negatively valued moods were quite low, and decreased significantly during the visit. Entering levels of positively valued moods were moderately high, but these also decreased slightly during the visit. The moods of the visitors appeared to be unrelated to background characteristics. To account for these findings, a process emphasizing anticipation is postulated, and areas for future research are suggested.
The purpose of this investigation was to examine selected aspects of local park usage by older urban residents. Specifically, the study examined: (1) meaning, motivation, and satisfactions associated with local park usage; (2) logistics of usage such as travel mode, duration of stay, companionship and others; (3) on-site behaviors, moods, attitudes and states of mind; and (4) critiques of the park environment. Data were collected in five large cities—San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and Boston — which were selected to provide variation in climate, geography and ethnic makeup. An interview schedule was developed and pilot-tested in Philadelphia in March of 1981. Subsequently, 695 personal interviews were conducted with users aged 55 and over in five parks within the five cities. Interviews took place in randomly selected parks which were designed for neighborhood use. Older users were found, to be diverse in demographic characteristics. Park use was found to frequently represent routine behavior in which a wide variety of leisure behavior ocçurred. Park visitation had important perceived benefits for approximately half of all older users.