The Pearl River Delta (PRD) is one of the most important economic zones both in China and in the world. Its rapid economic development has been associated with many environmental problems such as the loss of forests in urban areas. We estimated the accessibility of forests in the PRD by quantifying spatial proximity and travel time. We found that distances from a large proportion of the points of interest (POIs) (~45%) and urban lands (~38%, where ~49 urban residents live) to the nearest forests were greater than 1000 m; suggesting a low spatial proximity to forests. Urban parks—important outdoor recreational areas—appeared to have insufficient forest coverage within their 1000 m buffer zones. When forest accessibility was measured by travel time under optimal modes of transport; it was less than 15 min for most urban lands (~95%), which accommodates 98% of the total urban population. More importantly; the travel time to the nearest forest was negatively correlated with gross domestic product density (GDPd
), but not with population density (POPd
). The GDPd
; however; increased log-linearly with the Euclidean distance to the nearest forest. In addition to the low proximity to forests; there existed inequalities among urban residents who live in areas with different levels of GDPd
. Future urban planning needs not only to increase the total coverage of urban forests; but also to improve their spatial evenness across the urban landscapes in the PRD.
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