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Uneven Access and Underuse of Ecological Amenities in Urban Parks of the Río Piedras Watershed

Luis E. Santiago, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Julio C. Verdejo Ortiz, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Raul Santiago-Bartolomei, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Elvia J. Melendez-Ackerman, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Diana C. Garcia-Montiel, Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06180-190126

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Abstract

The association between consumption of ecological amenities in a park setting and improved physical and mental health substantiates the need for improved accessibility to green areas in lower-income neighborhoods. We measured green area accessibility, considering income variation, and park use in a densely populated tropical urban watershed. Park use was explored with 442 in-person interviews, and U.S. Census and Puerto Rico Commonwealth data were used to measure accessibility. Nearly 20% of residents earning ≤ $15,000 lived within park service areas with the highest crime incidence in the region, whereas 90% of those earning > $75,000 lived within park service areas with lower crime rates. Innovative nonexclusionary activities such as growing vegetable gardens are needed to attract lower-income residents and increase their sense of safety in urban parks.

Key words

accessibility; ecological amenities; Puerto Rico; Rio Piedras watershed; urban parks
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087