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Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234–244

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Landscape and Urban Planning
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/landurbplan

Research Paper

Urban green space, public health, and environmental justice:
The challenge of making cities ‘just green enough’
Jennifer R. Wolch a,∗ , Jason Byrne b , Joshua P. Newell c
a
University of California, Berkeley, 230 Wurster Hall #1820, Berkeley, CA 94720-1820, USA
b
School of Environment, Griffith University, Australia
c
School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, USA

h i g h l i g h t s

• Urban green space promotes physical activity and public health.
• Many US minority communities lack green space access, an environmental injustice.
• US and Chinese cities have developed innovative ways to create new green space.
• Urban greening can, however, create paradoxical effects such as gentrification.
• Urban green space projects need more integrative sustainability policies to protect communities.

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Urban green space, such as parks, forests, green roofs, streams, and community gardens, provides crit-
Available online 2 March 2014 ical ecosystem services. Green space also promotes physical activity, psychological well-being, and the
general public health of urban residents. This paper reviews the Anglo-American literature on urban
Keywords: green space, especially parks, and compares efforts to green US and Chinese cities. Most studies reveal
Urban green spaces that the distribution of such space often disproportionately benefits predominantly White and more
Ecosystem services
affluent communities. Access to green space is therefore increasingly recognized as an environmental
Human health
justice issue. Many US cities have implemented strategies to increase the supply of urban green space,
Environmental justice
Planning strategies
especially in park-poor neighborhoods. Strategies include greening of remnant urban land and reuse of
Gentrification obsolete or underutilized transportation infrastructure. Similar strategies are being employed in Chinese
cities where there is more state control of land supply but similar market incentives for urban greening.
In both contexts, however, urban green space strategies may be paradoxical: while the creation of new
green space to address environmental justice problems can make neighborhoods healthier and more
esthetically attractive, it also can increase housing costs and property values. Ultimately, this can lead to
gentrification and a displacement of the very residents the green space strategies were designed to ben-
efit. Urban planners, designers, and ecologists, therefore, need to focus on urban green space strategies
that are ‘just green enough’ and that explicitly protect social as well as ecological sustainability.
© 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction environmental quality, proximity to public transport, facilities,
and services (Dahmann, Wolch, Joassart-Marcelli, Reynolds, &
The world’s cities are becoming increasingly congested and pol- Jerret, 2010; Fuller & Gaston, 2009; Sister, Wolch, & Wilson, 2010).
luted (Blanco et al., 2009). Urban green space provides a wide range Public green space includes parks and reserves, sporting fields,
of ecosystem services that could help combat many urban ills and riparian areas like stream and river banks, greenways and trails,
improve life for city dwellers—especially their health. Such green community gardens, street trees, and nature conservation areas,
space is diverse, varying in size, vegetation cover, species richness, as well as less conventional spaces such as green walls, green
alleyways, and cemeteries (Roy, Byrne, & Pickering, 2012). Private
green space includes private backyards, communal grounds of
∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 510 642 0831; fax: +1 510 642 7560. apartment buildings, and corporate campuses.
E-mail addresses: wolch@berkeley.edu (J.R. Wolch), jason.byrne@griffith.edu.au Ecosystem services provided by urban green space not only
(J. Byrne), jpnewell@umich.edu (J.P. Newell). support the ecological integrity of cities, but can also protect the

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.01.017
0169-2046/© 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Coley. Kuo. Obesity can be detrimental Wealthier households often reside on the suburban periphery to children’s health (Dietz. in role of urban green space in shaping public health and environ. Green cover has also been shown to protect has originated from the United States. 2007. 2012). warranting intervention. & Popkin. leading to parkland acquisition pro. Evenson. McConnachie & Shackleton. McCormack. This paradox has negative Veitch. Giles-Corti. sidewalks. history of land development. 2008. improvements. not only because of continued park use as well as physical activity in Victoria. retail shops). Byrne & Wolch. sites of physical activity. 2006). we storm water. Barton & Pretty. age. found that parks were more housed. 2011). appear to powerfully influ- for additional green space. Telford & Crawford. and to a California municipalities. ethno-racial char. histories of ethno-racial oppressions. Public health benefits of urban green space space has become recognized as an environmental justice issue as awareness of its importance to public health has become recog. parks often serve as Australia. Bush et al. 2009.. (Heynen.. Other types of green space (e. Following Curran and Hamilton (2012). Pikora. such as adaptive reuse of infrastructure. Most research on urban green space and health has focused nized (Dai. with similar park-poverty problems. For example. 2001. Berenson & Dietz. Perkins. rapid increases in obesity suggest that individual behavior patterns. and replenish groundwater. attenuate noise. ple. Timperio. Casey design. Such housing cost escalation can attractiveness and size of open space. sion of the very residents the green space was meant to benefit. public recreation has seldom been studied in regard This paper offers a synthesis of Anglo-American research on the to physical activity and obesity. 2010. While genetic factors probably contribute (Stunkard. 2001. finding significant increases in park use following tus themselves have negative public health implications (Bentley. 1998). ers typically occupy the urban core and/or low-income inner ring Particular attention has focused on parks and the obesity epi- suburbs where green space is either scarce or poorly maintained. and increase the probability where green space is abundant. In Section 4. Green ences. including the philosophy of park eases (Anon. 1998). Children with more access Redressing park-poverty in communities of color and/or low to parks and recreational facilities are more active than children income households can. 2009). This environmental injustice has 2007). Abbott. to these spaces. 2011. making neighborhoods more desirable. 2011. et al. primarily parks. Grahn & Stigsdotter. In Clarkson. 2010). 1991). 2008). trees. and histories of class and ethno-racial inequality Woodcock et al. Floyd. to reap the public health benefits of But within cities. (dis)ability. housing costs can rise. philosophies of park design Hillier and Cohen. Crane. van rapidly urbanizing Chinese city of Hangzhou. but also significant differ- tants from the atmosphere (Nowak. Curiously. which is associated with enhanced health The reasons why green space is differentially distributed within and reduced risk for all-cause mortality and many chronic dis- the urban landscape are varied. ence obesity trends (Hill & Peters. a large number of studies demon- and state oppression (Byrne. Over the past two decades.. 2006). suggest that a primary challenge is to develop strategies that are Nowak et al. Macintyre. Sullivan. it can pro. & Wagner. finding evidence the foodscape (Leal & Chaix. Giles-Corti et al. Johnson Gaither. evolving ideas about leisure et al. green population density. 2002. with studies also examining green cover (Bedimo-Rung. we evaluate potential interventions for cover and urban forests can also moderate temperatures by pro. ending up in less desirable neighborhoods esthetically pleasing (minor traffic. Rock. 2010). Nelson. 1998). & Saelens. 2007. 2012). Most & Chapin. 2010. space. Hartig. Toohey. thus helping reduce the risk of of lessons from China. A series of studies in Perth. (2010). Often strate linkages between park proximity and physical activity (for explanations are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. 2010). de Vries. trees in urban innovative efforts to expand inner-city green space there have been areas may reduce air pollution by absorbing certain airborne pollu. Baker. successful. Rodriguez. well-serviced. & Cohen. & Mason. potentially lead to gentrification: the displacement and/or exclu. mindful viding shade and cooling an area. a cross-sectional study. and well-maintained of adult obesity (Freedman. consider these health and justice findings as they relate to the vide food (Escobedo. 2006.g. Crawford. create an urban green space with less access. and how lack of access affects public health. Green space may filter air.. Carroll & Flegal. the United Kingdom and health (Villeneuve et al. however. We identify some similarities.. Dahmann et al.R. & Brunson. US histories of property development are intertwined with Cohen et al. not. Wolch et al. 2009). become a planning priority. As more green space comes on line. and recreation. J. while those who are actually displaced may be forced to likely to encourage physical activity if they were perceived as leave their communities. Then. 1996. and assess whether den Berg. & Bacak. green walls) have yet to be systematically studied. The on parks.. & Zhang. we review studies of urban controlled for a wide range of built environment factors—including green space and environmental justice (Section 3). gender. it can improve attrac.. and other axes of difference (Byrne. using cross-sectional surveys turn. green space paradox. Gordon-Larsen. green space is not always equitably distributed. Wen. Centers for Disease Control. Wolch et al. 2007. and a greater share of minority roofs. / Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234–244 235 public health of urban populations. Australia (Giles-Corti & Donovan. For exam. that access to urban park resources is differentiated by class and remove pollution. 2013. Brownson. & Roy. Indeed. we heat-related illnesses for city dwellers (Cummins & Jackson. Jennings. infiltrate ethno-racial dimensions. 2005. & Gragg. 2006. 2006). 2012). 2010. 2012.. tiveness and public health. Wolch. In the final section. however. grams and diverse strategies to deploy underutilized urban land including low levels of physical activity. This literature has focused on urban parks. 2005). acteristics. Diez Roux et al. cool temperatures. Australia. Additionally. moreover. and land-use systems. & Donovan. (2005) outlined the importance of In turn. Recent studies show that both parks and recreational programs ing that many studies demonstrate the importance of green space are important to the development of obesity. before/after poverty but also because displacement and precarious housing sta. improvements. (2011) access for health and wellbeing. Findings indicated that areas with higher lesser degree. In the United States. literature has focused on how to measure access to urban green Mowen. Srinivasan. Brennan. the uneven accessibility of urban green 2. Housemann. Kuo. green cover. & Salmon (2012) studied park public health implications. urban greening. 1998). and most results for adults are similar (Diez Roux paradox. pollution exposure and traffic . 2012. We first residents had inferior access to public recreational programming. & Hignell. improved access to urban green space while avoiding the urban Access is often highly stratified based on income. Sallis. Salmon. demic (Ogden. the relative access of socio-demographics Lack of park access has been linked to mortality (Coutts. For example.’ That is. audited recreation programs from southern mental justice.. 2003). Ball. 2008. Mei. 2007. people of color and low-income earn. example. Horner. Groenewegen. residents may face higher rents and thus become precariously and data on environmental facilities. Baker. lower incomes. review scholarship on urban green space and public health. Page. Kroeger. & Verheij. 2001. & Stevens. ‘just green enough.

2002). Another meta-analysis (Lee and Maheswaran. Wu. diverse communities and wide-ranging recreational needs. Johnson-Gaither.. 1985). creating “park important to mental health. numerically. Sister et al. Despite a growing literature. 1994). 2010). such as poverty. Kuo. there may be health risks too. Mizoue. there is abundant evi- Taylor. 2009). Ohta. suggesting also have reputations reflecting their use. 2007). 2009. 2007. Whites had access to more park acres. Jennings While research has generally focused on the health benefits of et al. Roenmich et al. repute. One reason is that . 2011). significantly related to the development of obesity. range Mishima.. 1997). of facilities. which may deter use. Sallis. Maas. increase walking and cycling in polluted neighborhoods. and Sullivan (2001) found that children with attention dence of environmental injustice in the distribution of urban green deficit disorder who were active in green space had reduced symp. include air pollution exposure near parks and safety concerns in & Fehrenbach. and green space can afford urban residents oppor. parks. sures can also fail to account for potential congestion of park ity (Kaplan and Kaplan. Devine-Wright. communities. Joassart-Marcelli. or perceptions of Verheij.... studying Baltimore. if planning interventions ing distance of a park.236 J. Parks ful life event than those with a low green space access. pre- green space suffer from a wide range of behavioral problems. upkeep. 2009). and provide a sense of peace and tranquil. for example. 2007). Irvine. reduces obesity (Giles-Corti et al.. But the sub- park-adjacent neighborhoods in the Los Angeles region had higher urbanization of poverty is largely a result of increases in inner-ring pollution concentrations. Wolch. Park visits can also rejuvenate residents.. an (Sister et al. Boone. job loss. ies have used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to measure sity. Consequently. Usage may depend Warren. 2011. travel distance. In addition. availability of organized recreation.. they areas serving Blacks than in those serving Whites. absence of a park or recreation facil- In addition. & Ikeda. Sister et al.. on park characteristics and programs offered. between species richness and psychological well-being. Low-income communities of color. In some 3.R. 2009). 2005. with low-income communities of color having cal activity into daily routes. 2009). park features). Hofstetter. & Sister (2009). Sister et al. Fan. ethnicity or class? determinants (e. They are designed to serve more green space near their homes were less affected by a stress. or total park acreage within urban parks and green space (Ernstson. and Wolch (2011) found that people now live in suburbs (Kneebone & Berube. showing that there were gestion. & Kremer. there is no consensus among unemployment.. 2006. especially in low income and minority suburban poverty due to deindustrialization. Park significant impacts of green exercise on several measures of mood congestion was more acute in low-income and minority neighbor- and self-esteem. and inner city gentrification (Cooke.. parks and other green space. more poor A study by Su. cultural preferences) and socio-spatial basis of race. there was more park congestion in the park service out commensurate efforts to reduce levels of air pollution. space. 2012. incorporates physi. 1998). 2010). several studies find that interaction with and low-income people have less access to green space.. or nature and animals is important to child development and well. Simple GIS mea- enhance contemplation. Active transportation funding for urban parks and recreation indicate this also follows such as walking and bicycling. far less to spend on parks and recreation and having less non- 2003. demographics. Jerrett. Wolch et al. These Louv (2005) contends that children who lack access to urban standards may even negatively impact some urban residents. In a major Dutch study Van den Berg. and social conditions. 1991. de Nazelle. 2007). Zakarian. 1981. 2008. poverty. 2009. recreational programs than those who are White or more afflu- being (Kahn & Kellert. psychological well-being is empirically linked to ity near the home.g. quality.g. service areas” that could be compared in terms of potential con- conducted a meta-analysis of UK studies. 2013). For example.. and that green space buffers stress. 2010. Woo et al. Hovel. 2010. 2012). 2010). Landry & Chakraborty. A variety of other studies show that racial/ethnic minorities toms. Song. Parks differ in terms of size. 2004) park access and race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Most stud- recreational resources affects the development of childhood obe. not all poor risk also increasing low-income residents’ exposure to pollution. of parks on physical activity or obesity. already have relative Some studies have found more complex relationships between high rates of active transport (Houston. densification of inner suburban areas due to crowding also means that there may be pressure on park space Given the links between green space access and health. / Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234–244 density (Jerrett et al. with.. Park access and especially recreational program access were accessibility (Oh and Jeong. Wolch et al. & Salim. 2005). & Keating. 2010. and alleviates automobile congestion profit resources as well (Joassart-Marcelli. These Leslie. Cerin. 2010.. Environmental injustice in access to urban green space metropolitan regions. Rodriguez although Blacks were more likely than Whites to live within walk- & Crawford-Brown. provision in the United States is difficult (Wilkinson. Buckley. For example.. and traffic-related air and noise pollution (Cavill & Davis. Metrics include presence vs. 2010). Such heterogeneity means urban parks can increase perceptions of safety and belonging (Kuo compliance with uniform national standards for urban park space et al. & Groenewegen (2010) showed that respondents with safety among actual or potential users. More generally. Norman et al. has been shown to reduce stress (Ulrich. people or people of color live in inner cities. riously heterogeneous. Regardless of measurement strategy. 2010. & Gaston. Wolch. and may experience adverse health effects if strategies promot. tunities to encounter plants and animals as well as opportunities Geographic access alone may not fully capture the impact to recuperate or experience solitude (Fuller. 2011) found linkages between various measures of psychological A challenge in access measurement is that green space is noto- health and urban green space (Maas et al. hoods. Scholars have generally attributed park (non)use. found positive associations needed. England. space. (2007) in Sheffield. to that disproportionately advantage or disadvantage people on the socio-cultural (e. 2007). 2006. 2003. density of facilities. ent (Abercrombie et al. Wilson... White flight. Grove. & Winer. scribing blanket solutions where locally specific interventions are Fuller et al. Barton and Pretty (2010). and socioeconomic characteristics. race/class contours. Also as a locus of social interaction design quality (Byrne & Wolch.. Dahmann et al. important question is whether access to urban green space—and its Environmental injustice also emerges from studies of why parks health promoting and/or protective effects—is distributed in ways may go unused. however. & Takeuchi. and Faber. Talen. found that ing active travel are poorly implemented (de Nazelle. Also. A park experience a given radius of home (Mota et al. Gee. Ulrich et al. and crime—to assess how proximity to parks and scholars about how to measure green space access. (2010) Physical activity in green space—or green exercise—is also allocated all residents to their nearest park. studies of public and nonprofit parks that are located in heavy traffic areas. Ong. by contrast. Such communities typi- cally lack fiscal capacity and thus may have poorly maintained parks and minimal recreation programs (Dahmann et al.

cial ratio of green space is about 15 m2 per capita.. citizen participation in decision-making is limited. Acevedo. green space in China. high resi. Between 1980 and 2009 the urban population swelled by Hangzhou is exceptional (Wu.. Bao. Fig. despite more generous planning standards (Yin and corridors may expose users to air pollutants. warranting interven. efforts may be problematic. 2012) as well as more sedentary lifestyles and changing diets. & Zhu. histories million residents. Preliminary research suggests urban greening is paying div- outstrips supply. Zeng and Gu. 2009b). and is profoundly impacting the city’s environmen- Together. Yi. jobs. And evidence suggests differences in access to early twentieth century. and for the nation’s first urban wetland park—the XiXi Wetlands 4.000 and 19. neglected spaces such as land adjacent to and underneath free- Park-planning has lagged behind real estate development. Hangzhou is recognized throughout China as a Garden City and renowned for its tree-lined streets. many elaborately landscaped for passive avenues for raising formal complaints about environmental pro. Approaches to retrofitting urban green space: examples (about three times larger than New York’s Central Park). 1998. more than 600 cities have met these standards. and that entire areas of the city have parts of the city (Wenting. 2010). Large-scale reforestation has preserved and integrated his- income and possibly by ethnicity (Quan. Miao (2011) describes such parks tection and management (Li. 1996. 2009). meaning that a city meets certain national standards for forest cover. 1998). 2013). hinterlands. wealthy merchants. in 2013. Shinew. Residential Xiao. 2013). and over 90% of Environmental justice is an emergent problem in China. and demand for green space significantly 2006). 2006. officially panying these trends is widespread environmental pollution (Gong Hangzhou now has 166. Often. underneath and alongside main roads and railway lines. these districts is located close to main roads. Bao. 431 million—more than the population of the United States. & Zhu. 2009). education. 2011. The city’s annual average tem- tion. The example of Hangzhou another group in the community (Brownlow. 2011). along the banks of canals Green space standards are enshrined within Chinese planning that transect the older urban core. toric sites such as the pagoda of the City God adjacent to Wushan & Qian.. 2007). canals. China has disparities for parks. & Darkwa. 3). 2012). & Izenstark. urban transformation in China dwarf experiences elsewhere (Zhu. More. many without permanent residency Many parks are small and contain few facilities. 2008. 2010). and explosive rates of urbanization. Parks health. Zhang. / Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234–244 237 a given park space may be perceived as unsafe or “belonging” to 4.5 km2 of green space (about 40% of the city et al. Wolch et al. & Hengyu. but most are not suited to active recreation. Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province. What sets Hangzhou apart from other Chinese cities. China is undergoing unprecedented Tian. The scale of internal migration. J. area.. air pollution (Meng et al.. are We now turn to urban planning and landscape interventions its innovative efforts to address the declining environmental qual- being tested in both US and Chinese cities to see how experiments ity by restoring lost green space (Qin-Tong.4 million and rising prevalence obesity. 2012).. densities in the city’s core districts are between 16. but largely reserved for Europeans. With about 6 nos in Los Angeles illustrates how ethno-racial formations.. and impacts of and provision of parks—as determined through remote sensing.R. A recent study of Shanghai found that many res. 2). the population (Lv et al. 2012). increasing users’ expo- dential densities. located approx- Byrne’s (2012) work involving focus groups with low-income Lati. lessen storm-water and flooding though evapora- but those published reveal that ecological functions of green space tion. & extensive pavements to cope with high use volumes.18 m2 per capita. In 2012. retrofitting green space alongside formerly dilapidated in income and ethnic minority status that negatively affect health. urban green space increased by 14. imately 200 km southeast of Shanghai (see Fig. Since 1992. and land-use regulation can circum. Smyth. residents also fear as ‘window dressing’ which seldom allow active use. The Western sure to air pollution and making it difficult to escape traffic noise ideal of the park is relatively new to China (Shi. Wu. though. are poorly understood. Parks alongside freeways and rail Wang. & Chu. environmental impacts and well-being increasingly distributed by 2013). due to historical patterns of urban development. hazardous Plaza into new green and open space precincts. Liu. China City” is an official designation in China. urban growth. A study by Byrne Xu. with the city’s population reportedly has easy access (Sang Lijie et al. Gobster. alongside railway lines (see Fig. “Garden from Hangzhou. 1). Most days are blanketed in associated with access to urban green space. with temperature reductions of between 4◦ and 6◦ in some idents lack access to parks. and poor quality housing are disproportionately concentrated But official statistics belie the nature of green space in Hangzhou. 2013). Peng. Burgess. Zhao. Qi. island impacts. in one place can inform others. but are difficult to enforce. studied extensively for Hangzhou. The dimensions of such justice challenges will vary from place peratures are also the second-hottest in China. 2012). Stodolska. These efforts include the demolition of factories rates of urbanization. but are apt to have long-term implications for health and impervious urban development (Shen. 2012).000 Access to green space is also an environmental justice issue in persons per km2 (Spiekermann et al. among lower-income earners. Chang. in Hangzhou generally fit Western description of ‘pleasure gardens’ over. Ye. diabetes and kidney disease (Gong m2 . & Shen. During the (Sun et al. public parks were created in Beijing and green space associated with socio-demographic characteristics of Shanghai. well-being. idends. and on former factory sites codes. (2013) revealed under-provision of active recreation space in . ways. intercept pollutants. 2011). Mishra. & Ge. Chow. 2012). and reduce wind speed (Chen. these findings document environmental injustice tal quality (Spiekermann et al.1. and Chinese experiences with retrofitting urban green space can offer mass tree planting along city streets. Accom.52 m2 per capita in China (Trust for Public Land. amount of green space. Xu. important lessons to cities of the Global North. scenic West Lake National Park.. Racially homogeneous. 2001. no formal green spaces (Yin and Xu. 2008). 2013). & Li. Rapid urbanization has consumed its agricultural scribe park access and use. 2009a). and dignitaries. 2010). and other benefits in the city (Ma. Due to its ambitious urban greening program. it is one of China’s oldest cities (Altenburger of segregated park systems. While in the US the However. some new urban greening age is just 6. but 2012). recreation only (Chen et al. Mead. the target is for an additional 13 million m2 . 2011. the aver. 1995). 2009). as are (Chen. Limited research on green space (Yang.. They may be esthet- under China’s hukou registration system and thus not entitled to ically pleasing. Many have that complaints will bring reprisals or persecution (Brajer. The offi- et al. The goals are to reduce heat access in China has been translated for English-language journals. Pollution impacts. Commoners were actively excluded (Bickers & Hangzhou’s ambitious urban greening hinges upon activating Wasserstrom. exacerbated by its to place. Ren. although green space health benefits have not been national median green space ratio is 50.

Even the der to shoulder in many of the city’s parks.R.. . Fig. 2012). Although many smallest green space embellishments may drive up property prices new residential communities incorporate green courtyard gar. Existing inner city green space is also be inflating property values (Chen. come consequences in the form of the green space paradox. Wolch et al. Source: J. Byrne. Hangzhou. Some areas temperatures are the hottest. lack access to urban green space—especially older areas await. 2. problems. China. with limited outdoor play spaces In addition. gentrification and thus displacing lower-income earners. in the urban core. Byrne. inner city districts in Hangzhou. new studies suggest that urban greening efforts may for children and teenagers. Hangzhou may thus face park-related environmental justice ing redevelopment and peripheral communities (Sang Lijie et al. where densities are highest. Yet efforts to create more green space may bring unwel- 2013). when temperatures are high. and dens. parks are fewer. / Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234–244 Fig. the overall amount of green space is very low. Location of Hangzhou. Source: J.238 J. 1. it is often shoul. Distribution of Green space. China. potentially leading to often congested.

while locales. also an environmental justice issue. 5). are ecologically oriented or less grand (Brander & Koetse.R. Plan. birds. 2011) or eco-gentrification (Patrick. community-based organiza. 2009). variously termed ecological gentrification (Dooling. urban greening projects can set off rounds public health and environmental justice concerns (Barnett. such urban green related public health disparities. The High Line was built for public health. 2009).. 2009).. it was slated for demolition but income neighborhoods and communities of color—places where rescued by local activists and redesigned as an aerial greenway. and social interaction.. Wolch et al. planners. Hangzhou. green consumption. parks beneath freeways). 2013). were overtly transport or utility corridors. These and ecology to facilitate green space provision and gentrification green spaces are unlikely to offer organized recreational activi. informal play and exercise. ties.. and remediated brownfields. originally space can also provide essential services that are critical to both designed to cut through blocks rather than follow the street. developers. as well as enhance urban ecolo. The imperative to address such environmental injustices and Yet like other urban sustainability approaches. now harness the language of sustainability. Many rail corridors. urban streets. of gentrification. 1982). environmental gentrification There is a range of possibilities opened up through the adap. 4. Conclusion: the paradox of urban green space Perhaps the most famous example of using obsolete infrastruc- ture is New York’s High Line (Fig. If they are successful from the perspective of urban resi- acquisition programs and innovative strategies for expanding dents and businesses. designed to increase land values and open up development oppor- ners in dozens of cities across the United States. J. given that in many cities. China. 3. along with a variety of types of open space. allow- urban ecological functioning and integrity. 2012). they may ultimately exclude those whose green space resources. has led planners to focus on both traditional parkland 2007). Lim et al. dramatically altering housing opportunities and These strategies do not represent a re-orientation toward prob. 2001). gies. 5.g. rather communities (Zukin et al. Rendered obsolete by the 1980s. such as This dynamic is not new.. 2011). and other small animals. tive use of obsolete or underused urban infrastructure. need for access is most acute. often aided by environmental groups. tat provision (Fig. 2012). 2011). even when projects physical activity and energy expenditures (Cohen et al. Source: J. abandoned major park projects of the past. but they can be equipped with micro-gyms shown to increase The same land market dynamics apply. Newell et al. gentrification (Gould & Lewis. Byrne. Green space retrofits. (Checker. 2007. for instance. and urban environmental managers offering a distributed strategy for urban runoff infiltration and habi. are tunities (Cranz. 2011. attracting millions of people each year. are refocusing urban typically low-income and/or industrial areas of existing cities more brownfield remediation projects on urban green space to address livable and attractive. the commercial/retail infrastructure that supports lower income lematic green-space types (e. and this pattern is shaping urban areas in transforming back alleys into green infrastructure for walking and China and other parts of Asia (He. 2013. But across biking. space strategies may have paradoxical results (Krueger & Gibbs. The public health challenges tend to be the most critical—often have High Line has become one of the most popular destinations in the relatively poor access to safe and well-maintained parks and other city. nor is it unique to western cities. including Central Park. In addition. now being replicated in many This paper has highlighted the importance of urban green space US cities as well as at least one Chinese city. low. . By simultaneously making older and tions.. (Quastel. This paradoxical effect has been they highlight possibilities for adaptive re-use of infrastructure. / Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234–244 239 Fig. underutilized back alleys. Wolch et al. Parks and open space and other forms of green on the remains of an abandoned elevated train line spur. Urban green space is ing freight to be easily delivered to factories and other businesses. insects. green provided that health standards are not compromised.

/ Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014) 234–244 Fig. 2009. Proposed Avalon Green Alley Network. . 4. Looking Downtown. Wu. along with the services designed to assist only to resettle in communities with worse environmental quality them. Poignantly. 2012. 2010). & Westphal. 20th St. South Los Angeles. 2011). & Jerrett. 2012. Pearsall. Li. 2005. Nicholls & Crompton. 2011. (2013). brownfield redevelopment as in Seattle. 2012). Heckert & Mennis. From Newell et al. High Line. who lived in these areas. while Fig. Saphores and Li. Photo: Beyond My Ken. Similarly. Wolch et al.240 J. 2010. Wolch. 5. (Dale & Newman. Essoka. Eckerd. Privileging natural processes and ecological health. Kahle. which were proceeded by removing homeless people green space can raise property values. 2010. Dooling (2009) although hazardous waste cleanup can proceed without changes recounts efforts to improve ecological function along riparian zones in property values (Eckerd. 2010. 2009.R. De Sousa. forcing poor residents out. Conway. Image: Trust for Public Land.

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