Town Planners Must Act to Safeguard Green Space

New research published in Biology Letters indicates that real efforts must be made to maintain green space in our towns and cities as human society becomes ever-more urbanised.

Researchers Richard Fuller, University of Queensland, and Kevin Gaston, University of Sheffield, examined data on urban land cover from the European Environment Agency, selecting 386 cities across Europe as the focus of their investigation, based on land area covered and population size. Cities in Europe tended to have a greater proportion of green space than those in the South. The researchers found that the amount of green space contained within a city varied enormously: from 3 – 4 square metres per person in Cádiz, Fuenlabrada and Almería in Spain and Reggio di Calabria in Italy, to more than 300 square metres per person in Liège in Belgium, Oulu in Finland and Valenciennes in France.

The UK bucked a trend found across Europe: in 67 UK cities selected for the study, the amount of green space did not increase with increasing population size, but with overall city area.

The study suggests that residents will have less access to green space as cities grow, with consequent effects on health and well-being, unless measures are taken to actively preserve and maintain this. The researchers recommend that systematic conservation planning should be built into development plans for cities and that tools should be developed which balance benefits to biodiversity, human well-being and economic growth, when designing urban areas fit for the 21st Century.

Access full paper: Fuller, R. A. and Gaston, K.J. (2009). The scaling of green space coverage in European cities. Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0010.

The Natural Capital Initiative, supported by the Science Council and British Library, is holding an event on 15th June focused on ‘Sustainable Cities’. All are welcome. Click here for further information.