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Public green spaces in times of Covid-19

16 June 2020

Public green spaces provide essential benefits for people, especially in urban areas. The possibility to perform outdoor physical recreation, to appreciate the scenic quality of a landscape and to enjoy outdoor time with friends and family are only some among the multiple benefits that can be enjoyed in public green spaces.
Besides the long standing evidence of positive effects for people’s health and well-being, access to public green spaces has proven to trigger environmental attachment and stewardship, eventually resulting in a positive impact on the ecosystem as a whole.

Yet, unequal patterns of public green spaces access result in the unequal distribution of those benefits and the partial activation of those positive impacts.
Differences in age, gender, class and cultural background may have an influence on both the preference for some benefits and the physical or mental barriers that limit their accessibility. For example, while the Covid-19 lockdown measures are implying or implied similar barriers for all groups of the society to access any kind of benefit, generally different barriers act on different social groups or particular benefits.

With this study, part of URBAG, a larger research project at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (https://ictaweb.uab.cat/), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, which investigates how green infrastructures contribute to urban sustainability, we aim to understand the perceived benefits people obtain from public green spaces, their accessibility, infrastructural determinants (e.g. presence of shadowing vegetation, places for gathering, sense of security, etc.) and spatial and temporal patterns of benefits uptake, also in relation to their social group of belonging. In addition, it explores the use people do of social media for communicating those same preferences and barriers and analyses the effect of the Covid-19 lockdown in changing people’s valuation of public green spaces benefits.

Data is collected through an online survey developed on Maptionnaire and available in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German.

We are happy to share the responses map during the first 24 hours having the survey online: