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Lifestyle and nature quality in urban greenspace

Project: Research

  • Department of Policy Analysis
  • Department of Wildlife Ecology and Biodiversity
  • Department of Wildlife Ecology and Biodiversity
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Urban greenspace is a key component of urban sustainability. Urban green areas provide habitats for flora and fauna and have a substantial value as such. But the city’s ecosystems also provide a variety of services to the city and its people. These ecosystem services consist of physical and biological functions such as air and water purification and protection against extreme weather as well as social functions in terms of recreational and aesthetic qualities and spaces for social interaction.

This cross disciplinary research project investigated the interplay between urban nature, urban planning and everyday practices in urban greenspace in the municipality of Copenhagen. It consisted of several sub studies including (A) a study of the uses of green areas and their integration in everyday practices of urban populations; (B) a study of policy actors’ understanding of urban green structure and spatial develop-ment, and (C) a study of the quality of nature in urban habitats.

Key findings

Urban green areas serve a number of social functions. They are places for being together in families and with friends. They are also places for casual meetings and maintenance of informal social networks. Furthermore, in urban green spaces people get an opportunity to observe and experience the urban diversity. When domestic and other everyday activities are extended into public green spaces, people become witnesses to each others’ lives. In that way public green spaces provide experiences of common citizenship. And as a contrast to social interaction, urban green areas also offer spaces for spending time alone. Here, people can get a chance to enjoy a sense of getting away and being gone.

Furthermore, green areas provide variation in the urban landscape and a contrast to built-up areas, and precisely this coexistence between city and nature is perceived as an important quality in urban life. Likewise, diversity of green areas – in terms of their size, their furnishing and facilities and the occurrence of plants and animals – is perceived as an important quality for urban life. Sensuous experiences of nature are sources of joy and improved life quality. People become attached to particular places and trees, and elements of urban nature are thereby woven into people’s life courses and everyday practices.

A biological assessment of the nature in Copenhagen’s green structure indicates that it is of a somewhat varied quality. The project has investigated nine specific localities across Copenhagen and nature quality has been assessed from a total of eight variables. Among the nine selected localities in the municipality of Copenhagen there are sub areas with nature quality as high as the national averages, but the average of all sub-areas investigated in this project is considerably lower than national averages. Poor nature quality in a specific locality is, however, not necessarily a result of intensified use of the locality. Good quality of nature can go hand in hand with high user quality. For instance, variations in the terrain, large stones, banks, and varied plantings of bushes and trees support a varied and robust flora and fauna while such features of the landscape also support social functions because they provide shelter and semi-secluded social spaces.
Effective start/end date01/04/200921/12/2011



Research outputs

ID: 128924585