Green Spaces in the Urban

By Fizala Tayebulla

Keywords: Urban Green Space, Urban Park, Human-Environment Relation, Urbanization

Under the ambit of urban green space-  urban public park or a metropolitan park is a green and open space in cities that offer recreation to residents and visitors. Urban parks are typically maintained by the government on a local level but may sometimes be contracted out to a private sector company. Common features of a park can include playground, vegetation, fitness trails, sports field, and picnic facility, depending on the budget and physical features available. The underlying importance of maintaining and developing a green space is increasingly being realized for their social and environmental advantages for urban residents.

There is a need for a comprehensive idea of how human and environment relationships and questions manifest in city spaces. In the fast-paced rut of urbanization and increasing population density, open spaces fall easy targets for conversion into residential or other infrastructures catering to population growth. This leads to the natural problem of imbalanced access to urban green spaces and its benefits (Taylor, 2017).

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Figure 1 Illustration of abstract urban green space (Credits: Fizala Tayebulla/CUES)

 

A recent news report by one of a national newspaper published an article, ‘7-year old’s High Court plea to save park a success, DDA says will build halls elsewhere’ is a report sharing the exact perspective of this issue of contentious access and authority to urban green spaces.

‘Her park’ is a park playground, which she is a regular user of, while to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), it is a site without built-up area that could be converted to a community centre. In this case, the result of litigation was favourable to a juvenile’s plea to let the park be a park as the DDA found another plot just 50m from the proposed site to build a multi-purpose hall (Indian Express, 2017). The case was filed as a petition stating it as an example of “poor planning”. However, studies and research have increasingly shown that existing understanding of issues in human-environment relations in urban greenspaces are still incomplete and deficits orientation for planners and decision makers. For urbanization to move more sustainably, it is pertinent that a more balanced view of development is considered, which takes into account the residents of the city, their quality of life and urban environment.

Urban green spaces have been a growing subject of research in the 21st century. To broadly view how the academia has studied the feature of urban green spaces in urban ecology (globally), we would find that the largest number of studies focus on the typical use and perceptions by different users of urban green spaces and park. The second range of research study health effects (direct or indirect) concerning local resident and park visitors. The third branch research in the arena emphases on relations of social and environmental justice, access and facility of urban green space among diverse resident groups. The fourth fragment opines the subject from the point of view of planning and conceived understandings of urban green development by planners, policymakers and experts. The lesser studied focal point around the subject is found to be – social cohesion and participatory issues and economic evaluation studies. These research are nonetheless, geographically mapped on the more developed parts of the world (USA, UK, China, Australia, Netherland, Germany and so on). To elaborate, 88.1% of the published studies in the journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening is contributed by high-income countries, whereas only 2.5% studies were from low-middle income countries.

While such statistics need not necessarily indicate knowledge gap in social science research in developing countries, the bias perhaps can be the case that cities in Africa, South America, India may have a different focus of discussion in urban environment e.g. Air pollution, access to clean water and food, population pressure, etc.  Broadly speaking, to bring an enhanced understanding of urban green space concerns in both theoretical and empirical research, it is important to include groups like children, elderly people, migrant and refugees, homeless people, and ethnic minority groups – groups which remain under-represented in urban green space research. A focus on more cross-city, comparative case studies may also be able to address different challenges and be instrumental in devising more inclusive and just planning objectives.

 

References:

  • Indian Express Delhi epaper dated Sat, 9 Dec 17. (2017). indianexpress.com. Retrieved 15 December 2017, from http://epaper.indianexpress.com/1460435/Indian-Express/December-09,-2017#page/4/2
  • Kabisch, N., Qureshi, S., & Haase, D. (2015). Human–environment interactions in urban green spaces — A systematic review of contemporary issues and prospects for future research. Environmental Impact Assessment Review50, 25-34. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2014.08.007
  • Taylor, L., & Hochuli, D. (2017). Defining greenspace: Multiple uses across multiple disciplines. Landscape And Urban Planning158, 25-38. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.09.024

 

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