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The Importance of Public Urban Green Spaces

Public urban green spaces, encompassing parks, gardens, and other natural areas within city environments, play a critical role in enhancing the quality of urban life. These spaces are essential not only for environmental sustainability but also for public health, social cohesion, and economic prosperity.

Urban green spaces are integral to the urban fabric, providing residents with access to nature and offering a respite from the concrete jungle. These areas include parks, gardens, street trees, green roofs, and community gardens, each contributing uniquely to the urban ecosystem. The importance of these spaces has been underscored by various studies, highlighting their role in mitigating environmental challenges, promoting health and well-being, and enhancing social interaction.

Environmental Benefits

- Mitigation of Urban Heat Island Effect:

Urban areas tend to be significantly warmer than their rural counterparts, a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. Green spaces help to mitigate this by providing shade and facilitating evapotranspiration, which cools the air. Trees and vegetation absorb sunlight and use it for photosynthesis, reducing the amount of heat that is converted to ground-level air temperature. This cooling effect is crucial for making cities more livable, especially during heatwaves​​.

- Improvement of Air Quality:

Green spaces play a significant role in improving urban air quality. Plants absorb pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter, and release oxygen through photosynthesis. This process not only purifies the air but also enhances the overall respiratory health of urban residents. The presence of green spaces can lead to lower levels of pollution, reducing the incidence of respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis​.

- Promotion of Biodiversity:

Urban green spaces serve as critical habitats for various plant and animal species, promoting biodiversity within city environments. These areas provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for wildlife, helping to maintain ecological balance. Biodiversity in urban areas contributes to the resilience of ecosystems, ensuring that they can withstand and recover from environmental stresses and disturbances​.

Public Health Benefits


- Physical Health:

Urban green spaces are vital for promoting physical activity among residents. They improve air quality, provide safe and accessible venues for exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, and playing sports. Regular physical activity is linked to a multitude of health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. By facilitating physical activity, green spaces help improve the overall physical health of the urban population​​.

- Mental Health:

Exposure to green spaces has been shown to have a profound impact on mental health. Natural environments reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by providing a calming and restorative experience. Studies have demonstrated that people who live near green spaces have lower levels of psychological distress and better overall mental health. The presence of greenery and the opportunity to engage with nature can enhance mood, boost cognitive function, and improve overall well-being.

Social Benefits

- Social Cohesion and Community Building:

Urban green spaces are vital for fostering social interactions and community cohesion. These areas serve as communal gathering spots where people can meet, socialize, and participate in community activities. The presence of well-maintained and accessible green spaces encourages a sense of belonging and community pride. They provide opportunities for social engagement and help to build stronger, more connected communities​​.

- Crime Reduction:

The presence of green spaces can also contribute to crime reduction in urban areas. Well-maintained parks and gardens promote a sense of safety and deter criminal activities. Increased foot traffic and community presence in these areas enhance surveillance and reduce opportunities for crime. Furthermore, engaging in community gardening and other green space activities can foster a sense of ownership and responsibility, further deterring antisocial behaviour.

Public urban green spaces are indispensable for creating sustainable, healthy, and vibrant cities. They offer a multitude of environmental, health, social, and economic benefits that enhance the quality of urban life. As cities continue to grow and face various challenges, the preservation and expansion of green spaces should be prioritised. Policymakers and urban planners must recognise the value of these areas and incorporate them into urban development strategies to ensure a balanced and livable urban environment.

The integration of green spaces into urban planning is not merely a luxury but a necessity for fostering sustainable and resilient cities. By investing in and maintaining these vital areas, we can create healthier, happier, and more sustainable communities for future generations.

The article is based on the following papers:
Gianfredi, V., Buffoli, M., Rebecchi, A., Croci, R.,  Oradini-Alacreu, A., Stirparo, G.,  Marino, A., Odone, A., Capolongo, S., Signorelli, C. (2021). Urban Green Spaces and Public Health Outcomes: a systematic review of literature. European Journal of Public Health, 31(3):


Aram, F. (2024). Resources of Urban Green Spaces and Sustainable Development. Resources, 13(1): 10: 

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