Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38

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Landscape and Urban Planning
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Defining greenspace: Multiple uses across multiple disciplines
Lucy Taylor a,∗ , Dieter F. Hochuli b
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Room 410 Heydon-Laurence building (A08) The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia

h i g h l i g h t s

• Most publications reviewed fail to define what is meant by the term greenspace.
• Of those that do provide a definition, six different definition types are identified.
• Two broad interpretations are used: a) greenspace as synonomous with nature; and.
• b) greenspace as explicitly urban vegetation.
• Recommend a definition is required that is both qualitative and quantitative.

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

Article history: Greenspace research has been driven by an emerging interest in the impact that biodiversity and ecosys-
Received 30 January 2016 tem function has on life in urban areas. Studies from multiple disciplines across the life, physical and
Received in revised form 27 August 2016 social sciences investigate the interactions with or within greenspace, creating a wide range of poten-
Accepted 29 September 2016
tially related, but disparate findings. In order to understand whether these unconnected findings might
Available online 8 October 2016
be integrated, it is important to be able to make comparisons and build meta-analyses. In a review of
journal articles about greenspace, we found that less than half of the 125 journal articles reviewed defined
what greenspace was in their study; although many articles implied a definition. In those that provided
a definition, we identified two overarching interpretations of greenspace using six different definition
Urbanization types. Perhaps arising from how the term has been lexicalized, this suggests that researchers do not have
Biodiversity the same understanding of greenspace and limits the ability of researchers to draw meaning from multi-
Literature review ple contexts or create syntheses. Rather than suggest a single, prescriptive understanding of greenspace,
Green space we propose that researchers construct a definition of greenspace for the context of their research that
utilises both qualitative and quantitative aspects.
© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license

1. Introduction (Alberti, 2008). This is particularly relevant in cities, where social
and ecological components, including greenspaces, are under pres-
Greenspace is usually, but not always, comprised of vegeta- sures associated with urbanization. There are two potential ways to
tion and associated with natural elements. There has been growing achieve research across multiple elements. First, multidisciplinary
interest in greenspace research due to evidence that nature posi- investigations consider multiple components. For example, ecol-
tively impacts human wellbeing (Frumkin, 2013; Taylor & Hochuli, ogy ‘in’ cities typically involves research from one discipline, such
2015). This research is relevant to a range of disciplines, includ- as investigating the diversity and abundance of birds along a rural-
ing the health and medical sciences, urban design and planning, urban gradient, but the ecology ‘of’ cities incorporates multiple
ecology, and a number of social sciences. While single discipline disciplines and takes a multi-scale approach (McDonnell, 2012),
studies are important, greenspace research will not progress with- such as investigating the diversity and abundance of birds in mul-
out considering the findings of multiple components, such as social tiple land cover types that represent a rural-urban gradient across
and ecological aspects, due to the complexity of how they integrate an entire city to inform urban planning and management (e.g.,
Catterall, 2009). Urban ecology has embraced the ecology ‘of’ cities
as a multidisciplinary way to integrate various aspects of the hybrid
∗ Corresponding author. urban environment. The second way forward for research of mul-
E-mail addresses: (L. Taylor), tiple components is to make comparative assessments of studies. (D.F. Hochuli). Comparative studies might include meta-analysis, or syntheses of
0169-2046/© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

. 2000). 2009). 2016). green space is defined as “land covered with suggestions to enable integration between studies. which also includes literature is intended to improve the lives of residents.26 L. to a network of greenspace. including a synthesis of 219 research papers that focus tacit assumptions are often used in lieu of definitions in various on human-environment interactions in urban greenspace (Kabisch. 2013). methodology. 2009). existing studies (McDonnell & Hahs. and the accessibility can vary (for ing redundant when terms are inadequately defined.. as otherwise. such as ‘urban’. 2000). 2014) because the greenspace greenspace in the recent literature. Without ensuring that common terms are rigorously compound to be explicit about the focus on the modern use of the defined. neighborhood. however it does not refer to a search of all ISI Web of Science databases was performed on vegetated land. where the adjective green and adds to the challenges of management. green and space. Green infrastructure is a related term used in the literature to refer out quantified descriptions of key terms (McIntyre et al. In order to understand form of space propulsion (Kang et al. and propose igating air pollution. Other closely associated terms include: open space. suggesting urban vegetation. health benefits of greenspace (Bowler. a ‘green space’ conforming with the definition provided (i. & Burch. Christie. unlike a noun phrase such as purple shirt. the term urban lacks qualitative et al. they are used. 2009). van Huyssteen. In order meaning (Verhoeven & van Huyssteen. residential gardens or instead a lack of rigor on the part of the researchers (McIntyre et al. Instead. including the core collection. How greenspace is used in recent literature etated land) may not be as relevant to the pollution mitigation aspects.. it is likely that there will be a lack of consensus in how term.F. D. remnant patches. Attempts interpretations might be acceptable for limited or single disci. not all include vegetation (for example. Hochuli / Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38 350 300 Number of papers 250 200 150 100 50 0 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Green space Greenspace Fig. 1973). Fenton. it refers to an environmentally-friendly 17 April 2015. or disciplinary focus.. 2016). particularly when multiple aspects are involved. A number of reviews on single aspects of greenspace have been ‘urban’ (McIntyre. one-word com- Disciplines have different objectives and use different method. disciplines’ literature. As such. This has been found to be the case with the term. 2015). applied at multiple scales (e. often assumed and therefore unclear (McIntyre et al. similar definitions and data are which is not just a board that is white. Historically. add words to the lexicon. pounds are easy to distinguish from noun phrases (Verhoeven & ologies. then the greenspace on agricultural land and other landscapes.. Publications about greenspace have increased since the turn of the century. 1. & Lomov. Knowles-Yánez. open spaces or res- to progressing academic research. 7 acres of greenspace per private property. By meaningful operational tidisciplinary or comparative study (Cooper. tigate how greenspace is used in recent literature. but it is impossible to undertake as unsealed or ‘soft’ surfaces (Swanwick. & Woolley. These terms are in order for the research to progress (Hochuli. is used with markers for presentations. we mean that a term should be qualified and quanti. Hedges. is impossible with the current lack of clarity around the term and Some of the varying interpretations may be related to how terms how it is used. landscape. a review of 25 studies concerning the of key terms is critical for researchers. but without quantification. The author was right to the scale. can be one or two words. and this can result in different meanings (McDonnell. otherwise they risk rely. qualify that the vegetation of interest was trees. Jang. For example. As with many other com- may not be fulfilling the desired function if it is degraded or if it mon terms. Greenspace is a com- the variation of greenspace across the world. in the case of streets on or region has a policy of. for example. 2014). but an erasable board that required (McDonnell & Hahs. 2000). & Pullin. we concentrate on the one-word 2012). has a distinct form comparative research is important (Niemelä. The necessary integration required in order to take the lit- fied where possible. Furthermore. being able to per. Knight. 2014). ‘greenspace’.. definitions. & Hope. to be able to compare findings. where the scale is city. 2003). Another valid use of the term is “green space bipropel- In order to determine how researchers use or define greenspace. pline studies (Pickett et al. CABI. If a country example.. parks. for example. city. 2013). & Kwon. multidisciplinary research or perform comparative studies with. It is critical to provide a meaningful operational definition all assume human interaction or an urban context. greenspace has been quately defining it potentially undermines the research performed used as two words. 2009). 2015). lant” (Kang. making remains relevant. regardless of some form of vegetation” (Warren. & Valentine.g. operational definitions must be provided A clear conceptual usage of greenspace is critical to a robust mul- that can be interpreted by all sectors. which & Ellaway.. 2009) (for example. a human-dominated ecosystem might be considered wide and its function is in relation to urban inhabitants (Tzoulas urban. In addition parcel). yards. McDonnell. in a paper concerning trees mit. Providing a clear and considered definition Qureshi. streetscapes might be public or. While compounds. They do not reflect the operational use of 1000 residents (Ambrey & Fleming. 2007). To continue to research greenspace without ade- develop and become lexicalized. This is more likely to increase understanding erature about greenspace beyond a collection of individual studies across multiple disciplines and research contexts. BioSIS Previews . published. Dunnett. Our aims were to inves- describes the space.or landscape- For example. and road verges or streetscapes. have been made to define various greenspace features. So in order to ensure policy decision. such as whiteboard. Such individual values associated with greenspace (Hunter & Luck. McCrorie. veg- 2. These terms and definitions 2000). Cadenasso. and quantitative detail that detracts from its usefulness. idential yards may be paved). private). policies are at risk of becom. the meaning of the term greenspace is comprises artificial elements. Buyung-Ali.e. or 2009). Taylor. pound that. ing on idiosyncratic personal interpretations of generalized terms 2010). and a review of 50 studies that measure social-ecological (Pickett. & Haase.

urban forest. productive greenspace. nature. with 230 citations across omitted but informed the research. The number of papers reviewed represent more than (Fig. green network. where emerged after the emergence of the two-word compound “green quality refers to one or more aspects of a site that researchers high- space”. public greenspace. blue space. green space. 2013). during 2009–2014 (Appendix A). green space Greenspace. green belt Architecture. has been cited considerably more than the next most- . economics. urban greenspace. green area. urban greenspace. urban green space. productive urban greenspace. informal urban green-space. urban garden. urban green. a study focused on the physical in colour or described as ‘green’ in an environmental sense). with most papers being published in journals that were explicitly multidisciplinary. for example. green space. Policy and Economics Behavioural and Studies in Human Earth Sciences Educaon History and Urban Sciences Health Sciences Veterinary and Polical Science Cognive Society Archaeology Environment and Environmental Sciences Building Sciences Journal field of research Fig. ecological garden. water bodies. Taylor. green elements. reports and planning documents were Groenewegen. greenery. & Spreeuwenberg. green-space. public greenspace. trees. forest. green environments. greenery. urban greenspace. significant in how the greenspace functions. Greenspace. landscape. Discipline of Journal Papers Key term Other terms used Biological. Verheij. spe- b) the search was less likely to return results not relevant to the cific aspects of greenspace. vegetated area. country sample of both uses of the term (“greenspace” and “green space”). such as biodiversity. urban forest. green space. urban ecosystem. green areas surroundings. examples of and 2014 (Fig. green environments political science. green space. In many cases. A seminal paper by de Vries and colleagues (de Vries. A TOPIC search for “greenspace” was The key terms used by journal article authors were noted. urban trees. walkable area Social sciences (including history. working greenspace Medical and Health Sciences 15 Greenspace. all databases. green areas. public Greenspace. green space. The research focus of journals that published papers about greenspace varied. 1). nature. urban green space habitat. urban Sciences greenspace. c) the activity of children may not mention biodiversity. Given that papers were from multiple disciplines. The study location and. open green space. urban Greenspace. greenery. We decided to draw from papers returned by greenspace were included in lieu of a definition. Biological Medical and Agricultural. blue space. urban parks. sociology. urban public greenspace. As such. natural education. performed. green space. An increase in the number of publications in the last decade reviewed. Urban Environment and 21 Greenspace. returning 367 publications published between 1975 as were any definitions provided. urban green areas. about spaces that are green measured or reported. green space. Hochuli / Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38 27 50 45 40 Number of published papers 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Muldisciplinary Architecture. policy and greenspace environment. greening project. green space. and d) “greenspace” as a single-word compound has authors perceived as quality of the greenspace were noted. productive urban greenspace. Earth. urban Building greenspace. L. green infrastructure. 15 Greenspace. Table 1 A number of terms were used interchangeably with greenspace across all disciplines. greenness exposure. urban Greenspace. green patches. were 1975. green area. green environment. Conference proceedings. nature urban green space. suggesting the development of the term. 2. green greenspace infrastructure.F. woodland and Medline. was noted. greenness. green space. riparian greenspace. and Environmental 25 Greenspace. public greenspace. multifunctional greenspace. urban greenspace ecosystem. 1) suggests that greenspace is an emerging area of research. tree cover. urban greenspace. so examples were a “greenspace” search because a) the search results represent a also captured. green area. 2003). garden. natural environment. urban greenspace. findings relevant to what the author or to be intended. urban farm. were not always intentions of our study (for example. green roof. garden. sky garden. parkland. one-third of papers returned in the ‘greenspace’ TOPIC search. green space. as terms that become lexalized often do (Verhoeven & van light and that might differentiate them from other sites or prove Huyssteen. greenbelt. across all years. D. and behavioral sciences) Multidisciplinary 49 Greenspace. The most recent 125 journal papers at the time of download Publications with the TOPIC greenspace were found as early as with the topic ‘greenspace’. where applicable. but an ecologi- compound reflects the use of the lexicalized term that is most likely cal study might.

This is consistent with similar reviews of other common terms (e. rural or other area types. 2011). den’. 2000). and such a description. Two papers focused on coastal environments. with paper focused on public forests which could be located in either or three papers focused on collections of counties (such as the UK both urban and non-urban environments (Doick. describes a type or subset of greenspace. and/or a reference to serving human needs environments in terms of ecology. 2013). 2015). 2).g. ‘public greenspace’. & Julliard. 2009) Ecosystem services Examples that embody ecosystem services. ‘green infrastructure’.. & Gordon-Larsen. McIntyre et al. Most papers used the key term ‘greenspace’ (101). Hochuli / Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38 Table 2 Six types of definitions identified from the literature were used to describe ‘greenspace’. or north-western Europe). America. undeveloped land (Dallimer et al. & Gaston. 2012). of those research addition. biological sciences ‘open greenspace’ and one paper used the phrase ‘productive urban and medical and health sciences classifications. space’. Gaston. Asia and North the context of the rural environment. Some were given. Atkinson. urban open land. ‘greenery’. Simon. 2011). and woody perennial” (Tavernia & Reed. Where examples environment. urban environment and building classifications. they could not be relied upon to provide a consis- . A range of adjectives qual- ber of papers were published in journals relating to architecture. It was unclear whether some papers (6) being. the ified the term. 2009). Five Warren. ranging from range (n = 5) considered ‘greenspace’ sparsely-landscaped streets to tree-lined walk-ways to playfields ¨ and forested parks. White. Cordle. D. and thus were not located in any specific country. Wheeler. This creates another of each classification code. but which basically serves human needs and uses” (Aydin & Cukur. Cheval. 2011). such as science and medicine (such as PLOS One) and is unclear whether they were referring to a more general defini- medicine and society (such as Social Science and Medicine). papers (8) had a general focus.. example 19 of the papers that used the term ‘greenspace’ also used 2013). 2010) Vegetated areas Areas that feature vegetation “green in the sense of being predominantly covered with (n = 21) vegetation” (Heckert.. the most common context of greenspace. examples (n = 17) forest. ‘green belt’. (such as Kabisch et al. for example. ‘green network’. eco..g. 2014). tion of greenspace or whether they failed to adequately describe There were no observable patterns in how papers published in the object of their study. 2011). focused on urban or non-urban environments. public health and epidemiology.. for example. Disciplinary patterns appeared in the paper. pub.28 L. Given the scope greenspace’ (Yokohari & Bolthouse. ‘green environ- water (Lindemann-Matthies & Marty. In it describes a subset of greenspace. including Europe. Greenspace context a definition provided examples of what was meant by greenspace. pasture. The majority were might be the keyword. road strip corridors. it plinary foci. 2012) Green areas (n = 4) A reference to ‘green’ and/or ‘natural’ areas without further “the area investigated included substantial green explanation elements”(Gentin. gardens. Definition type Description Example Acknowledged A definition that acknowledged the range of what can be “greenness describes level of vegetation. Morris & O’Brien. Many papers used secondary terms to different discipline areas referred to greenspace. papers con. Table 1 demonstrates that a Just over half of the papers reviewed (69) failed to provide any range of terms were used interchangeably with greenspace across definition of what was meant by the term ‘greenspace’ or ‘green all disciplines. and open more terms used across all disciplines. 2012) Definition by Examples were provided to illustrate what is meant by greenspace “combined areas of open land. such as “woodlots.. Irvine. In some instances. 2013). or whether scientific journals focused on conservation biology and ecology. It is not clear whether a more descriptive term preventative medicine. for example. papers used both formatting of the title or the aim of the journal and aligned with the Australian the terms ‘greenspace’ and ‘green space’. 2013) cited paper by Fuller and colleagues (Fuller.. Almost one-fifth of the papers were from more accurately describes what is meant by greenspace. ‘green roof’. Table 1 lists lically accessible vegetation (Lachowycz & Jones. & Evans. but throughout the paper ‘greenspace’ is from journals with an explicit multidisciplinary aim... Terminology and definitions application (Shwartz. with 161 citations across all databases. Taylor.2. ‘urban gar- to provide ecosystem services (Yokohari & Bolthouse. there were a range of topics included. 2011). 2013) and a virtual interface for training agricultural workers (Luecke. ‘urban farm’. golf courses. ‘urban parks’. Diaz-Porras. or keywords (e. Similarly. and vegetation and ‘blue space’. the majority of papers were published one on virtual gardens. many papers did not use ies in nutrition and obesity. 2007). in references (e. For example.F. A large num. one The studies were conducted across 22 individual countries. Where the key word ‘green space’ was the main term used. ‘parkland’. Eight papers were reviews or presentations of theoreti- cal frameworks. A majority of papers (102) considered greenspace in the urban and cemeteries” (Carbo-Ramirez & Zuria. ‘nature’. ‘greenspace’ 2. Alcock. cropland.g. Furthermore. ‘walkable area’. Devine-Wright. As has been reported by other reviews & Giupponi. and one on virtual training for workers in in the northern hemisphere. such as ‘urban greenspace’. 2013).g. 2013). 2011) Land uses (n = 6) Generic land uses described as greenspace “recreational or undeveloped land” (Boone-Heinonen.1. there were papers from journals with specific multidisci. papers that did not use an adjective to qualify what was meant. ‘green area’.(Almanza et al. aesthetics or public health. for logical papers variously described greenspace as parks (Ikin et al. ‘urban forest’. such as urban “a type of land use which has notable contributions to urban (n = 3) agriculture. across human populations. parks. & The discipline areas for each journal were derived from either Depledge. ‘green space’ Standard Research Classification (ASRC) (Fig. Casanova. used (e. layer of ambiguity as while in some cases the qualifying adjective for example medical and health sciences papers included stud. and ‘woodland’. Most papers that did not provide 2. ‘urban centrating on urban planning described greenspace as functioning green’. describe the location or object of their study with more detail. land or forest (Tavernia & Reed. papers focused on urbanization gradients or comparisons with Both of these papers link greenspace to human health and/or well. with the remaining papers primarily using the key term ‘green space’. Two papers focused on the virtual environment: a virtual gardening 2. Richardson.3. ment’.

Price.(Lindemann-Matthies & Marty. tion could be described as a subset of the overarching concept The second most common definition involved explicit examples of of greenspace that is confined to the urban environment and a what was considered ‘greenspace’ as the definition. 2013) ¨ & Jim. For example. street trees and parks. . The first is that planning journals. allotment gardens. parks. The different terms used by different cultures makes this more dif- . focusing on all live terms include remnant vegetation (White.” (Lachowycz & Jones. In a paper about whether there all research concerning vegetation. for example subset of open space. & vegetation. Other terms might be used to represent greenspace. & Watts. and three papers usage of greenspace. a range of different kinds of vegetative complexity.. such as urban parks. 2009).5.. yards. coastal (Dinnie. & Fuller. and patch (Miller. 2013) − two provided a definition by areas and food crops. greenspace means in the context of the research. or natural areas in general. . Buijs. Chetcuti. 2013) ¨ dwellings. For instance. 2012). Language and culture greenspace is employed in disciplines or journals that focus on disciplinary niches. plants or trees [and may include] built environment includes bushland.” (Chong et al. 2012). Dunton. nature reserves. Of greater concern are the papers that fail to define ral area for a comparison of findings might be possible. Whether greenspace is used as a series of land-use Antos. In a paper about the phys.. including natural and woodlands. & Grunewald. Taylor. gardens and these may vary from country to country. despite and coastal areas (White et al. including school playgrounds woodland and nature reserves. Jerrett. Fitzsimons. 2013). Other (Almanza. there are two possible inter- there was no discernible pattern of how the term was used in pretations of greenspace that could provide a more functional different disciplines. such as forests and wilderness areas. includes water or ‘blue space’ as with coastal areas. Sullivan. parks and gardens. within and between disciplines. Greenspace as nature Greenspace as urban vegetated space “[Greenspaces] broadly encompass publicly accessible areas with natural “Greenspace is defined as any vegetated land adjoining an urban area . . 2013) settlements” (Strohbach & Haase. & Pentz. trees.‘natural’ green space environments such as ".” “[The] sum of all woody and associated vegetation in and around dense human (MacKerron & Mourato. Of those that did provide a definition. The second interpretation represents urban vegetation. 2. This interpreta- most common definition of greenspace described vegetated areas. For example. only those that use the term is a coastal effect on wellbeing in Policy and Health.F.4. considered generally as ‘greenness’. 2013). references to greenspace in multidisciplinary It is worth noting that the papers reviewed do not include journals become less cohesive still. . 2009). provided definitions that involved ecosystem services or services such as park benches and footpaths. . Boersema. five used a variant of vegetation to define what greenspace refers to bodies of water or areas of vegetation in a land- was meant − although that varied from vegetation and water (Guzy. understanding describes a human-focused land-use that requires mon definitions provided. Examples to different meanings of greenspace. Palmer. 2011) while others specifically excluded domestic gardens (such Failing to provide a clear picture of what is meant by greenspace as Cummins & Fagg. Lo & Jim. 2012. This reflects the predominant focus of the “urban green spaces − that is forests. as well as less managed areas. other papers about research in Australia that concerns measured via normalized differentiation vegetation index (NDVI) vegetation have been published during the same timeframe. Haase. . 2012) tent description of what is meant by greenspace. ". cussed in multidisciplinary journals. Stewart. woods. what is meant by the term. features. make the spaces valuable to to humans. and vegetation and publicly accessible space gardens and backyards. . such essary human influence (and reliance) on urban greenspace. 2012) urban parks.daily lives involve and take place in parks. ‘greenness exposure’ is greenspace. of the eight papers from urban understanding when definitions are provided.(Lo “Our main focus is on land cover (including green and blue space types). 2013) “. urban forest (Doody. greenspace is greenspace. Seto. Where general land & Reed. a generic explanation of green. 2012). 2010). . Sharma. L. Possingham. & Schouten. Brown. 2013). . . outdoor sports fields. the understanding differs in Searching for every possible descriptor of vegetation and/or natu- the literature. & Bolthouse. 2013) and rural or semi-rural areas immediately adjoining an urban area. farmland. parks. this macro understanding of greenspace could be a synonym not provide a definition or provide examples to illustrate what of nature and antonym of urbanization. from natural and semi-natural landscapes to the countryside and (Bastian et al. Five papers acknowledged that there is human involvement and planning in order for it to be successful. This interpretation refers to an overarching example (Moseley. such as grass. & Dorcas. national parks. In papers that explored perceptions and ness or nature without example or description.g.. 2013) “The conceptualisation of greenspace in this review includes both urban and “urban green spaces − that is forests. underscoring The evidence suggests that even work within disciplines refers the importance of human and non-human interactions. there being seven papers representing Australia that are about ical activity and design of communities.” (White et al. . . scape. defined greenspace as green areas.” (Petersen. if unwieldy. & types. Just over 7% (9) of the papers reviewed did 2000). cemeteries.. we defined a garden as the private spaces adjacent to or surrounding at lakes and beaches and in other green and blue areas. urban forests and urban farms − usually greenspace. grass. 2011). defined as ‘natural’ environments. trees. in Table 3 illustrate how the two interpretations are used. D. are the next most com.and vegetation. 2010)..vegetated areas located within built-up areas. Hochuli / Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38 29 Table 3 Examples show how the two different interpretations of greenspace are used. allotments or reviewed papers on the urban landscape and therefore the nec- cemeteries” (Bastian. Marzano. The relating to a vegetated variant of open space. Land uses. Given that no single definition of 2. & Morris. Mukherjee. 2011). geological formations. including parks. such as Landscape and Urban Planning and Policy and Health. 2013) “. Meurk. Tavernia concept of nature.” (Kloek. and one referred to ecosystem services (Yokohari cover is a dichotomy of either urban or natural areas (McIntyre et al. gardens.. Four papers even if only to ensure its conservation (Kumar. This as recreational areas or undeveloped land. . 2013. 2012) planted trees. Petersen. urban residents (e. or is Perkins. six types of definitions were identified (Table 2). & Raghubanshi. Two interpretations of greenspace some examples included domestic gardens (such as Dallimer et al. elements that accommodate human usage. includ- Of the papers that provided a definition of what they meant by ing parks. Greenspace is commonly dis. allotments or cemeteries − nonurban provide a whole range of ecosystem services for the residents of a city” green. . shrubs and flowers.

Maas. Not all countries use allotment self-reported wellbeing. 2011). can also differ between cultures. The uncertainties associated with Describing an urban environment as a ‘human-dominated multiple cultural contexts underscore the importance of including ecosystem’ omits the land-use. are critical to assess if the greenspace is going to support human and abstract or keywords. therefore greenspace should refer to both viding details of consistent measures would construct a qualitative habitat types (Guzy et al. then concrete painted green. 2013) and “streetscape greenery” (van Dillen. the For example. for example. but it would normally be tended by a group there is no consistent association between the species richness of of neighbouring people rather than one household). but broadly encompass publicly without differentiating between kinds of vegetation or biodiver- accessible areas with natural vegetation.F. this work demonstrates that the definition varies. & Spreeuwenberg. people generally prefer the presence is problematic because they could be culture-specific (Catterall. shade refers to. rather than vegetation. For example. it might further be implied with an anthropocentric understanding of greenspace. Taylor.g. two papers concerning psychology and colour therapy should be treated with caution as physical activity identified quality in different ways: one noted that colour associations may vary depending on context and culture. & Cooper. birds and butterflies and self-reported wellbeing (Dallimer always be obvious that greenspace includes allotment gardens (e. And when Seaman et al. Piana. and forests have been found to have a range of benefits .. Yin. As urban ecologists. When defining greenspace as higher levels of education or who were older tended to create gar- “urban parks and woodlands” (Doick et al. 2013).. Ecological integrity and species richness has in parts of Europe and refer to small plots of land provided to been found to be aesthetically pleasing (Lindemann-Matthies & individual households for the purpose of recreational gardening Marty. There are numerous social nuances in how people perceive It would be accurate to define greenspace by acknowledging that ‘quality’ and. measure- disciplines (McIntyre et al. whereas another identified food to non-human life. and biodiversity-identification of park visitors. if greenspace has represented ‘quality’ of greenspace that was associated with phys- benefits for humans and provides resources such as habitat and ical activity (Cummins & Fagg. For example. For example. D. their study. A number of the papers reviewed referred to the quality of Dunning.. has been found. are “subjective and vary widely. & Ellaway.6. ments or explicit criteria can increase the chances of understanding. this would 2009).. So ious social groupings.. Hochuli / Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38 ficult. & de Vries. 2013). as greenspace could be a common term in the title. Some studies referred to the quality of ‘green- to different things. greenspaces as those with good lighting around play areas and sidered a synonym for vegetation. ecological complexity is critical to consider (Shwartz et al. the language used can be ambiguous. these should be carefully defined to multiple meanings exist and individual authors could be referring study participants. Greenspace quality is meant by greenspace. however it was evident that quality thing? Is a “sky garden” (Tian & Jim.. The simplest definition would be that greenspace is any are “unmowed or not landscaped” (Vallejo et al. Patterns are difficult to find in current research about percep- It is not just the language that can be ambiguous. For example. 2010). & Ashton.. perhaps due to poor biological knowledge gardens. Wheeler. demographic. & James. or synthetic that what was considered good quality greenspace differed for var- grass. 2014). or may use another term (for example. In a study where participants choose the species they Groenewegen. Although est vegetation as it is most effective at cooling (Kong. Page. The disciplinary focus is relevant. 2009). 2011). but the trees” (Lachowycz & Jones. et al. 2012). Jones. it may be unclear dens with greater biodiversity and included more native species whether ‘woodlands’ refers to urban woodlands (a small patch of than other participants (Shwartz et al. it becomes unclear what is lack of litter (Groenewegen et al. out discrimination and. lar difficulties and. government zoning labels are not consistent make literature searches easier and links between studies more around the world. those who had an explicit definition is provided. a community gar. greenspace. definition of greenspace and enable it to be broadly understood. for example. colour ity is not unique to discipline. James. It may be that readers from that incidence of skin cancer (Astell-Burt. 2012). Further. such as grass. children and greenspace. & Kavanagh. there are suggestions that the colour green does contribute to Hutyra. it is noted that the definition allows other interpretations. but den is a similar term. Groenewegen. such as adolescents who wish to ‘hang out’. Akers et al. 2012). the types of greenspace preferred by birds 2013). it could be misleading parents with dependent children (Seaman. plants or sity.g. Murphy. While this example excludes pri. parents nominated quality The use of the word ‘green’ to describe the space could be con. Some ‘urban green’ as “all kinds of vegetation that give the street a green ecological papers may consider quality in terms of the subject of appearance” (de Vries. Greenspace is commonly considered to be uniform. 2013). Troxel. Relying only on common land use types. such as park. Bates. ‘formal’ greenspaces that were well maintained and included paths among other things (O’Connor. or while one simple definition would be useful. 2012). Verheij. In a paper linking phys- meant by a park if it is not greenspace? ical activity. noting that greenspace definitions ness’ (van Dillen et al. (2010) ity of greenspace was measured by perceptions of ‘naturalness’ or refer to “local parks or greenspaces”. while the meaning is often assumed.. for example. the best quality greenspaces comprise for- suggests associations with colour. Given that there is trees in an urban area). or native woodlands on the urban fringe a relationship between time spent in greenspace in Australia and or removed from the urban area. however this understanding is not always shared across trees might be more important to include at temperate locations cultures. 2014). Allotment gardens are common Hale. Including a list of terms and turtles move between both terrestrial and aquatic habitats with- concepts (e. Furthermore. do “street trees” (Jack-Scott. In a paper space with a “green appearance”. van den Berg. The term greenspace has simi. the qual- that there is also rural greenspace. Pearce.. 2012).. 2013). Furthermore. but qual- positive effects of greenspace (such as. 2012) mean the same ity refers to ecological integrity. 2013). non-human life (Catterall. 2013). but meaning tions of quality or how greenspace impacts humans (Sadler.. van Dillen. 2013). 2012) the same thing as a “green is subjective. the type local area share the cultural assumption about what ‘woodland’ of vegetation in public greenspace is important. & Spreeuwenberg. 2009). than others. 2000). & He. Feng. If an understanding of greenspace was shared. 2012) or ‘green’ (de Vries et al.30 L. Groenewegen.. 2011). and ultimately unhelpful. although this is problematic as it about urban cooling. ecological and social quantitative information so that when qualitative information is details that might be the focus of that environment for a range of not understood by researchers from different cultures. nor do they describe environmental features that readily found. are not going to perform the same function as vegetation. Thornton. in a paper by geographers concerned roof”? By referring to urban greenspace. Jones. It would not plants. & Kolt.. or at least pro. vate gardens and would therefore not be ideal for some studies. in a study on semi-aquatic turtles. 2012) unless would like in their ideal garden via a virtual tool. An association with perceived species richness and and particularly for growing food. where relevant. one paper defines paths (Lachowycz. of trees. we might have assumed that qual- de Vries. Even when defining what 2.

F. however it is Sreetheran. open green spaces. discussion that the results residents’ life satisfaction. and there is (2014) greenspace in relation to urban community gardens. explicit. tree-lined walk-ways. paper refers to public desired greenspace. food or wood. Hochuli / Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38 This study aims to determine USA Green space and greenness Greenness exposure. green areas’ are defined as those that make contributions to the ecological. (Vegetation) and discussion of the private analysis. parks. Green space includes Ownership is not relevant. scale is not discussed. forestry. (2013) measure the biodiversity that reality) gardens or green roofs. Greenspace can include a range Greenspace is municipally Akmar. stakeholder bodies. and greenspace in an urban area via include forests. normalized difference sparsely-landscaped streets. green roofs. aesthetic or public health needs of the urban environment. and flowers. and management of existing definitions that multifunctional greenspace. owned land. greening greenspaces discussed include on public or private land is not (2011) that allow ‘serious leisure’ for peri-urban woodlands. design public or private green people choose to put in their (Defined by examples) biodiversity spaces. recreational and sports greenspace to be public is in fact private. ideal garden. grass nature. D. cemeteries. The study aims to determine Australia Greenspace is defined with Public greenspace The type of greenspace is not The focus on this paper is Ambrey & Fleming the economic value of public examples: “public parks.” (Defined by examples) private greenspace will compensate by using public greenspace. playfields. water green elements. L. Public or domestic gardens.Table 4 Case studies demonstrate the different topics associated with greenspace. and forested parks. and document grounds. sports fields. farms. urban trees. where projects. NDVI − so interactions may be greenbelts on public or private land. grass. although a farm residents. such as trees. Greenspace is public greenspace. urban Parks. (Vegetation) This study uses a virtual tool to N/A (virtual Nature or green spaces are Nature. open space and flowers. urban The focus is on oxygen Ownership of trees at the city Aydin & Cukur (2012) for planning that takes into space are both used in the green areas. sector creating greenspaces near their premises or sponsoring public greenspaces. balance of urban areas. urban green spaces. interviews. discussed. Examples of productive Whether the agriculture occurs Yokohari & Bolthouse productive urban greenspaces include urban farms and working greenspace. This paper proposes a method Turkey While greenspace and green Open green spaces. shrubs. This study explores urban China Urban greenspace requires Green sites. Konijnendijk. natural and planted The implication is that this Lo & Jim (2012) residents’ views of current and vegetation. particularly trees. account the oxygen and carbon manuscript. (Ecosystem services) This paper promotes Japan Productive greenspaces Productive urban greenspace. (Ecosystem ‘commons’ occurs on public services) land. greenery. built-up area. greenness. urban park. support the “compensating national parks and wilderness hypothesis”: residents without area. Urban forestry on the management. green areas production. Taylor. urban urban agricultural land. including parks. tracked remotely via GPS or and children’s physical activity. the key term. green roof. noted that much land thought Nilsson (2011) a literature review. or People can use the tool to Shwartz et al. Almanza et al. garden. situated in a greening. children and green space are between greenness exposure (Range) vegetation index (NDVI). greenspace. (2012) whether there is an association refer to a range of vegetation. urban forests. Aim Country of How ‘greenspace’ is defined or Other terms used Type of greenspace Ownership Ref-erence study used The study investigates policy Malaysia Greenspace is described by Green infrastructure. including urban urban residents can partake in agriculture and peri-urban woodland household denotes private agriculture and woodland ‘serious leisure’ by producing land. determined via GIS. of vegetation. and street trees. 31 .

In addition to the quality of the veg. McIntyre et al. Ecology (ARCUE). 2003). the quality of the space and attributes of the park might in a study about urban cooling. Access All greenspaces were located within 10 km of the participants’ homes. Wildlife assemblages and vegetation nity for meta-analyses presents itself. but that should not be the extent of a definition. uti- otherwise disparate nature of research concerning greenspace that lizing multiple scales and disciplinary methods (McDonnell. Taylor. greenspace as Depending on the interpretation of greenspace used. an opportu- globally (Catterall. The term. Size The greenspaces had an area of 2 ha or less. there arching interpretations. We highlight that the more detail is provided half (n. Conclusion 3.. In that respect. apply in a meta-analysis.. 2014). Tree cover In order to reduce urban heat. such as six operational definition types and two over- of greenspace. only 28 papers mentioned biodiversity as an aspect of greenspace). Because these aspects were not applicable to their work and that enables comparison and multidis- mentioned in all or even most of the papers reviewed (for example. but researchers should provide a We acknowledge that greenspace will be used in varying disci- meaningful definition that both qualifies and quantifies what they plines. including public parks. For instance. for example. cultures and contexts. the shape associations between biodiversity and human wellbeing. street verges. greenspace. This will improve the This would enable researchers to employ the ecology of cities. etation. 2015). Future publications should employ clear opera- & Luck. only in different contexts. Measuring in order to make a difference in urban temperatures. A qualitative description of the greenspace is. The cur- unifying definition. or their accessibility. we might be able to expect patterns be more distinct and meanings to be more widely understood.. but these patterns fail to uncover a single is variation in what is meant by the term ‘greenspace’. Table 5 provides examples of how greenspace might be defined we looked instead for subjective references to quality. researchers from using the term. Like other researchers (e. Hochuli / Landscape and Urban Planning 158 (2017) 25–38 Table 5 Using multiple criteria to define greenspace creates a meaningful definition that a reader can understand. 8 shrub species. 1999). and 5 bird species had been counted there during one site visit. rather than suggesting or supporting We included references to quality in this study because we a detailed typology for such a wide range of disciplinary research. ciplinary application. either of the identified interpretations found. Furthermore. ing a meaningful definition of what the term means for each study. requiring paths. lawn. we initially tried to categorise the biodiversity of researchers will be able to form a meaningful definition that is both greenspaces. we suggest that by both qualifying and quantifying the greenspace. we suggest that by provid- It is likely that the lexicalization of the one-word compound. of environmental structure or function that could be compared By using common terms and defining them well. Quantitative Public health Amenities Greenspaces were chosen because they had amenities that made them Qualitative Sociology accessible to low-mobility residents. Examples of criteria Examples of how the criteria might be defined Category of criteria Example discipline Definition Greenspace refers to urban parks and wetlands that comprise some vegetation. For example. We found that when a definition is provided. the more useful the defini- the differing foci of papers are included in Table 4 to illustrate the tion will be. operational definitions of greenspace should be both qualified and quantified. ple. as defined by the Qualitative and Psychology GIS boundaries and zonal statistics. such as natural areas or urban vegetation. greenspace are broad and complex. that is. was instru- . 2009). and sports grounds. (Kong et al. wide variation. greenspace considered in this study includes Quantitative Cooling and carbon vegetated land comprised of >40% mature tree cover. found an absence of consistent aspects of greenspace in the sam. 2000). 2000). Hunter meant by the term. Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. However. 63) of the papers reviewed mentioned quality. we recommend that greenspace might be understood across disciplines. In order for studies concerning greenspace to be broadly con- structive. many cases often assume a sin- rent lack of consensus about what greenspace is should not deter gle understanding of greenspace. fostering multidisciplinary greenspace (such as described in McKinney & Lockwood. Instead. 2012). cultures and greenspace is used as well as or instead of other terms that involve contexts.g. we suggest that researchers provide multiple aspects that explain what they mean by the term Dr Amy Hahs from the Australian Research Centre for Urban greenspace. Creating definitions of greenspace The existing approach of tacitly describing greenspace. Quantitative Public health Ownership The greenspace is located on public land that is maintained by the local Qualitative Geography government or council. Qualitative Urban ecology Examples Greenspace refers to small urban parks. A number of patterns were We found that most published research fails to provide a definition identified. Landscape The greenspace is calculated across the full extent of the city. and numerous benches for frequent rests. 2015. might be similar in different types of urban be meaningfully used across disciplines. useful. Similar to the definition model used to Acknowledgements define urban (McIntyre et al. quantitative Ecological information All greenspaces had a minimum biodiversity of at least 10 different tree Quantitative Ecology species. is a critical area for further research.32 L. Qualitative Urban planning cemeteries. greenspace across all contexts. a generic description of a greenspace be important determinants for how and how frequently people or as an urban forest is unlikely to be specific enough to portray that non-human animals use a greenspace (Frumkin. 4. sequestration (McDonnell & Kendal. This will allow the literature to nature in the urban context. D. although and size of a greenspace and the tree cover it provides are critical complex. greenspace can structure.F. of course. or replicate.. Even so. if contin- The papers reviewed demonstrate that current definitions of ued. flat surfaces. spans multiple discipline areas. and interdisciplinary research and syntheses. will continue. we suggest that it is not use- tional definitions based on measurable criteria in order to progress ful to try and impose a single definition for common terms such as greenspace research. Examples of (that is. using more than one criterion). but neglect to articulate one. will ensure that the literature remains scattered and disparate.

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