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Urban green spaces provide many benefits to urban dwellers, from the environmental functions of cooling, air purification, stormwater mediation and biodiversity habitat, to contributions to mental and physical well-being, sense of place and connections to community. Urban environmental justice requires that there is equitable access to urban green spaces, distributed throughout the city. While some researchers have focused on the ‘unintended consequences’ of rising property prices and ‘green gentrification’ adjacent to new or rejuvenated green spaces, the health and well-being benefits of proximity to green space reinforce the importance of a distributed green space network across urban areas. While there is growing research on the health and wellbeing benefits of urban green spaces, there has been less focus specifically on the elements of social inclusion and community participation, particularly in the Australian urban context. This paper reviews research on green space equity, social inclusion and ‘green gentrification’ issues. Following this, we present two case studies from Melbourne that demonstrate how its urban green spaces contribute to social inclusion processes. We conclude by highlighting opportunities for strengthening links between green space provision, access and equity in both research and practice.

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