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Special Issue "Urban Green Spaces"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Paloma Cariñanos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Botany, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Granada, Granada 18071, Spain
Interests: urban green spaces; urban forests; green infrastructure; ecosystem services and disservices; urban trees; urban vegetation; urban biodiversity; urban ecology; allergen emissions; pollution mitigation; bioaerosols
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urban Green Spaces (UGS) are considered spaces of human–nature interaction in the urban environment, actively participating in the provision of ecosystem services that improve the quality of life and well-being of citizens. In addition, UGS have become a key element to reinforce the proactive resilience of cities in the face of the growing impacts of climate change. Their undeniable positive effects are counteracted, however, by nuisances or harmful effects that may occur in the development of their ecosystem functions, which are perceived as harmful by the population and which cause economic, social, and environmental damage. This Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health aims to address all the positive and negative aspects related to the Urban Green Spaces, in order to obtain a global vision that allows establishing the net balance of costs and benefits. We are particularly interested in articles that promote inclusive, sustainable, and healthy UGS design, specifically in relation to universal accessibility, social cohesion, environmental justice, historical and cultural values, improvement of biodiversity, food provision, air pollution mitigation, or any other benefit that UGS contribute to the urban environment and its inhabitants. On the other hand, manuscripts that address the negative aspects of UGS (disservices), such as their impact on the health of allergen and BVOCS emissions, the transmission of pests and diseases, the direct or indirect economic costs derived from the maintenance of UGS, or the existence of physical and socio-cultural barriers that prevent free access to UGS, are also particularly well received. We hope to have a wide collection of manuscripts that bring ideas and initiatives to implement everywhere.

Dr. Paloma Cariñanos
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Urban Green Spaces
  • ecosystem services
  • ecosystem disservices
  • nature-based solutions
  • sustainable green spaces
  • inclusive green spaces
  • healthy green spaces

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Designing Urban Green Spaces for Older Adults in Asian Cities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4423; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224423 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1668
Abstract
Elderly populations in Asian countries are expected to increase rapidly in the next few decades. Older adults, particularly in high-density cities, spend a considerable amount of time in urban green spaces (UGSs). The World Health Organization noted that UGSs are key to improving [...] Read more.
Elderly populations in Asian countries are expected to increase rapidly in the next few decades. Older adults, particularly in high-density cities, spend a considerable amount of time in urban green spaces (UGSs). The World Health Organization noted that UGSs are key to improving the age-friendliness of neighborhoods. Thus, it is necessary to design UGSs for the promotion of healthy ageing to enhance preventive healthcare and relieve medical burdens. This study conducted interviews using a questionnaire with a sample size of 326 participants in the cities of Hong Kong (China) and Tainan (Taiwan region). The inter-relationships among the design of UGSs (e.g., spatial distribution and accessibility, characteristics of plants and UGSs), older adults’ perceptions on safety and aesthetics quality of UGSs, and their self-reported health conditions (assessed by the self-reported SF-12v2 Health Survey) were investigated with bivariate Spearman rank correlation tests. The results indicate that the duration of visits to UGSs was positively associated with mental health and social functioning, two subscales evaluating health-related quality of life in SF 12v2. The statistical model (moderation analysis) showed that such a correlation was especially significant in women and those with low social support and social capital. A positive relationship was found between the physical health subscale and perceived safety in UGSs. This relationship was stronger among older adults living alone (moderation analysis). Furthermore, the color of plants and maintenance condition of UGSs were significant aspects affecting the subjective assessment of aesthetic quality. This study provides useful information regarding how to plan and design urban green spaces with certain characteristics that could improve the accessibility and aesthetic quality, which are preferred by older adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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Article
Older Adults’ Outdoor Walking and Inequalities in Neighbourhood Green Spaces Characteristics
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4379; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224379 - 09 Nov 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1406
Abstract
Outdoor walking has considerable benefits for healthy ageing and older adults are recommended to walk regularly. However, older adults living in high-deprivation areas walk less than those living in low-deprivation areas. Previous research has shown that the characteristics of neighbourhood green spaces (i.e., [...] Read more.
Outdoor walking has considerable benefits for healthy ageing and older adults are recommended to walk regularly. However, older adults living in high-deprivation areas walk less than those living in low-deprivation areas. Previous research has shown that the characteristics of neighbourhood green spaces (i.e., proximity, attractiveness, size, and number) may influence outdoor walking. This study examines spatial inequalities in the characteristics of neighbourhood green spaces in high- versus low-deprivation areas and their possible influences on disparities in older adults’ outdoor walking levels. For this purpose, it included a sample of 173 participants (≥65 years) and used secondary data and a geographic information system (GIS) to objectively measure neighbourhood green spaces characteristics. Geographic positioning system (GPS) technology was used to objectively measure outdoor walking levels. Data on participants’ personal characteristics were collected by questionnaire. The results indicate that one characteristic of neighbourhood green spaces (i.e., size) is positively related to outdoor walking levels. They show that inequalities in neighbourhood green spaces’ size in high- versus low-deprivation areas may influence disparities in older adults’ outdoor walking levels. Despite inequalities in other neighbourhood green space characteristics (e.g., proximity, attractiveness, and number) in high- versus low-deprivation areas, no relationship was found between these neighbourhood green space characteristics and participants’ outdoor walking levels. Enhancing the distribution or creation of large neighbourhood green spaces (e.g., through creating green space networks) may enhance outdoor walking among older residents, especially in high-deprivation areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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Article
Effects of Freeway Rerouting and Boulevard Replacement on Air Pollution Exposure and Neighborhood Attributes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4072; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214072 - 23 Oct 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2212
Abstract
Freeway rerouting and replacement with a street-level boulevard are urban transportation policies, that may help redress disproportionate air pollution burdens resulting from freeway construction that took place during the mid-20th century. However, environmental justice activism for freeway rerouting and urban green space creation [...] Read more.
Freeway rerouting and replacement with a street-level boulevard are urban transportation policies, that may help redress disproportionate air pollution burdens resulting from freeway construction that took place during the mid-20th century. However, environmental justice activism for freeway rerouting and urban green space creation may have the unintended consequence of environmental gentrification. In this paper, we investigate the effects of freeway routing decisions on exposure to traffic-related air pollution and neighborhood socioeconomic and demographic change. We focus on the effects of rerouting the Cypress Freeway in West Oakland, along with the construction of a street-level boulevard (Mandela Parkway), on the original freeway alignment. The impacts of two rebuild scenarios, freeway rebuild-in-place and reroute, on near-roadway NOx and BC concentrations are compared. We also assess changes in demographics and land use in West Oakland, between the time when the Cypress Freeway was damaged by a major earthquake and after completion of Mandela Parkway. Our research indicates that freeway rerouting reduced annual average concentrations of both NOx (−38% ± 4%) and BC (−25% ± 2%) along the Mandela Parkway alignment. However, there is evidence of environmentally driven neighborhood change, given that there are larger decreases in the long-time Black population (−28%) and increases in property values (184%) along Mandela Parkway, compared to West Oakland as a whole. There are some attributes along the Mandela Parkway that enable low-income residents to live in proximity to the street-level boulevard, such as affordable housing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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Article
Natural Landscape, Infrastructure, and Health: The Physical Activity Implications of Urban Green Space Composition among the Elderly
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 3986; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16203986 - 18 Oct 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1741
Abstract
Urban green spaces (UGS) have been linked with a series of benefits for the environment, and for the physical health and well-being of urban residents. This is of great importance in the context of the aging of modern societies. However, UGS have different [...] Read more.
Urban green spaces (UGS) have been linked with a series of benefits for the environment, and for the physical health and well-being of urban residents. This is of great importance in the context of the aging of modern societies. However, UGS have different forms and characteristics that can determine their utilization. Common elements in UGS such as the type of vegetation and the type of surface are surprisingly understudied in regard to their relationship with the type of activity undertaken in UGS. This paper aims to explore the relationship between landscape diversity and the type of surface with the time spent and the physical activity intensity performed by seniors. To do so, this study uses GPS tracking data in combination with accelerometer data gathered from 63 seniors residing in Barcelona, Spain. Results showed that senior participants spent little time inside the analyzed UGS and sedentary behaviors (SBs) were more common than physical activities (PAs). The presence of pavement surfaces positively influenced the total time spent in UGS while gravel surfaces were negatively associated with time spent in active behaviors. The provision of well-defined and maintained paved areas and paths are some key infrastructures to be considered when designing UGS for overall urban residents and, especially, when aiming to potentiate the access for senior visitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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Article
An Integrated Fuzzy AHP and Fuzzy TOPSIS Approach to Assess Sustainable Urban Development in an Emerging Economy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2902; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162902 - 13 Aug 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1502
Abstract
Sustainable urban development (SUD) requires a balance between economic growth, social well-being, and environmental protection. Oftentimes, urban policy makers can hardly fulfill all SUD goals due to inadequacy of resources to support SUD programs. Therefore, the process of allocating scarce resources to achieve [...] Read more.
Sustainable urban development (SUD) requires a balance between economic growth, social well-being, and environmental protection. Oftentimes, urban policy makers can hardly fulfill all SUD goals due to inadequacy of resources to support SUD programs. Therefore, the process of allocating scarce resources to achieve and balance various SUD goals becomes a critical challenge for policy makers and researchers. To solve this problem, this study adopts fuzzy Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and fuzzy Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Situation (TOPSIS) to assess and rank different indicators of SUD and evaluate different cities in an emerging economy (Vietnam). Fuzzy methods exhibit more advantages than traditional ranking methods. Fuzzy AHP is an extension of AHP, whereas fuzzy TOPSIS is an extension of TOPSIS. Fuzzy methods are used to overcome disadvantages of traditional methods and are beneficial techniques for solving complicated decision problems with a realistic solution. Using a valid sample data of ten experts in the field of SUD, empirical results show that education, healthcare, quality of life, and social democracy are the most important indicators of SUD. By contrast, social diversity, social maturity, and energy consumption are the least important indicators of SUD. For social sustainability, social democracy and quality of life are the two most important criteria, whereas social maturity and social diversity are the two least important criteria. For economic sustainability, education and healthcare are the two most important criteria, whereas infrastructure and income are the two least important criteria. For environmental sustainability, water quality and waste disposal are the two most important criteria, whereas energy consumption and ecological conservation are the two least important criteria. Furthermore, fuzzy TOPSIS results reveal the best and the worst cities in Vietnam with regard to overall SUD and its three components. This study provides evidence for researchers and policy makers to better understand the importance of different goals of SUD and efficiently allocate scarce resources to achieve and balance different SUD goals. Furthermore, researchers and policy makers should further focus on indicators such as social democracy, quality of life, education, healthcare, water quality, and waste disposal. These indicators will help obtain the goals of SUD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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Article
Exploring the Relevance of Green Space and Epidemic Diseases Based on Panel Data in China from 2007 to 2016
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(14), 2551; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142551 - 17 Jul 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1404
Abstract
Urban green space has been proven effective in improving public health in the contemporary background of planetary urbanization. There is a growing body of literature investigating the relationship between non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and green space, whereas seldom has the correlation been explored between [...] Read more.
Urban green space has been proven effective in improving public health in the contemporary background of planetary urbanization. There is a growing body of literature investigating the relationship between non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and green space, whereas seldom has the correlation been explored between green space and epidemics, such as dysentery, tuberculosis, and malaria, which still threaten the worldwide situation of public health. Meanwhile, most studies explored healthy issues with the general green space, public green space, and green space coverage, respectively, among which the different relevance has been rarely explored. This study aimed to examine and compare the relevance between these three kinds of green space and incidences of the three types of epidemic diseases based on the Panel Data Model (PDM) with the time series data of 31 Chinese provinces from 2007 to 2016. The results indicated that there exists different, or even opposite, relevance between various kinds of green space and epidemic diseases, which might be associated with the process of urban sprawl in rapid urbanization in China. This paper provides a reference for re-thinking the indices of green space in building healthier and greener cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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Article
“I Would Never Come Here Because I’ve Got My Own Garden”: Older Adults’ Perceptions of Small Urban Green Spaces
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 1994; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111994 - 05 Jun 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2566
Abstract
Green spaces are known to improve health and wellbeing via several mechanisms, such as by reducing stress and facilitating physical activity. However, little is known about the impact of the smaller green spaces typically found in urban environments on wellbeing, especially for older [...] Read more.
Green spaces are known to improve health and wellbeing via several mechanisms, such as by reducing stress and facilitating physical activity. However, little is known about the impact of the smaller green spaces typically found in urban environments on wellbeing, especially for older adults. This study investigated experiences in adults (5 males and 10 females) aged 60 years and over of small urban green spaces in a large UK city. Fifteen older adults were interviewed using semi-structured walk-along interviews and photo elicitation methods in Old Moat, Greater Manchester. Twelve of the participants lived in Old Moat at the time of the study, and the remaining three participants previously lived in Old Moat and were frequent visitors. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using Thematic Analysis. Smaller urban green spaces were perceived differently to large green spaces, and participants were more likely to use larger green spaces such as parks. The smaller green spaces were perceived as belonging to other people, which discouraged the older adults from using them. The older adults also emphasized the importance of taking care of small urban green spaces and preventing them from becoming overgrown. Urban planners should consider these factors, since they indicate that the size and type of urban green spaces may influence whether they improve health and wellbeing. Further research should investigate in more detail which types of urban green space are most conducive to facilitating physical activity and improving wellbeing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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Article
Estimation of the Allergenic Potential of Urban Trees and Urban Parks: Towards the Healthy Design of Urban Green Spaces of the Future
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(8), 1357; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081357 - 15 Apr 2019
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 3344
Abstract
The impact of allergens emitted by urban green spaces on health is one of the main disservices of ecosystems. The objective of this work is to establish the potential allergenic value of some tree species in urban environments, so that the allergenicity of [...] Read more.
The impact of allergens emitted by urban green spaces on health is one of the main disservices of ecosystems. The objective of this work is to establish the potential allergenic value of some tree species in urban environments, so that the allergenicity of green spaces can be estimated through application of the Index of Urban Green Zones Allergenicity (IUGZA). Multiple types of green spaces in Mediterranean cities were selected for the estimation of IUGZ. The results show that some of the ornamental species native to the Mediterranean are among the main causative agents of allergy in the population; in particular, Oleaceae, Cupressaceae, Fagaceae, and Platanus hispanica. Variables of the strongest impact on IUGZA were the bioclimatic characteristics of the territory and design aspects, such as the density of trees and the number of species. We concluded that the methodology to assess the allergenicity associated with urban trees and urban areas presented in this work opens new perspectives in the design and planning of urban green spaces, pointing out the need to consider the potential allergenicity of a species when selecting plant material to be used in cities. Only then can urban green areas be inclusive spaces, in terms of public health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Green Spaces)
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