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Parks in context: advancing citywide spatial quality assessments of urban green spaces using fine-scaled indicators

Roland Kraemer, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin, Geography Department, Berlin, Germany; Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department of Monitoring and Exploration Technologies, Leipzig, Germany
Nadja Kabisch, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin, Geography Department, Berlin, Germany; Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology, Leipzig, Germany


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Urban green spaces have gained attention because of their increasing relevance to human well-being in the context of challenges related to urbanization and climate change. Detailed, systematic, citywide assessments of specific urban green space characteristics that provide a sufficient understanding of resident interactions with green spaces and respective ecosystem service flows are lacking. We chose the city of Leipzig, one of the fastest growing cities in Germany, as a case study to assess the quality of publicly available green spaces by incorporating spatial context as a key dimension in determining their actual quality. We established 33 indicators that describe (1) natural elements, e.g., the types and configuration of vegetation and the proportion of water bodies; (2) built elements, e.g., various recreational facilities and path density; and (3) the embeddedness of green spaces within the built, social, and natural environment (context), e.g., the number of neighboring residents, nearby green or blue elements, and exposure to traffic. Based on these indicators, we developed a scoring approach that provides an evaluation of green space quality in terms of the potential to provide recreational ecosystem services. We identified and discussed spatial gaps and deficits in the quality of green space supply as well as leverage points for making operational improvements at the individual green space level. Our study provides urban planning guidance for identifying untapped potential for ecosystem services provision, e.g., because of usage barriers, and may help to balance the trade-offs between benefits for citizens and ecology and thus improve green spaces for both people and nature.

Key words

context; ecosystem services; green space quality; indicators; Leipzig; OSM; spatial assessment

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087