by R Lafortezza, G Carrus, G Sanesi, C Davies

Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 8(2): 97-108

The intensification of heat stress episodes in many European cities such as London and Milan has been linked to climate change. This study seeks to uncover the role of green spaces on the well-being of regular users in urban environments. The research team wondered if frequent and more prolonged visits to green environments would result in higher benefits (physical and psychological) and well-being of users as they cope with the discomfort associated with temperature increases during periods of heat stress. The authors approached this question by looking at the role of socio-demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender), environmental (e.g., traveled distance from home), and individual factors (e.g., type and amount of physical activity) in receiving the greenspace benefits.

The survey of 800 participants (400 in the UK and 400 in Italy) revealed that the greater the effort to visit the greenspace and the higher the level of physical activity once there, the greater the benefits and well-being of participants. Similarly, the more frequent and longer the visits, the greater benefits the participants derived from the visit. There were also significant differences between the UK and Italy, with UK participants reporting greater travel distances, and Italians more likely to use the greenspaces for relaxing and sports. The recommendations are to replicate this study during the summer season when heatwaves are likely to occur and during other seasons to capture the full use of green spaces in urban environments. Also, to cope with climate change, the UK government should consider policy moves to adapt accessible green spaces to provide water and shade. At the same time, the Italians need to budget for the maintenance of their existing green spaces.

Region: Italy and the United Kingdom
Publication Type: Journal article
Keywords: ecosystem services, greenspace, human health and well-being, public health, and urban forestry