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Urban green space, public health, and environmental justice: The challenge of making cities just green enough

May 2014

Jennifer R Wolch, Jason Byrne, Joshua P. Newell


Urban green space has been proven to promote physical activity, psychological wellbeing, and general public health for city residents. However, most studies have shown that urban green spaces disproportionately benefit affluent whites. The most successful parks often cause gentrification, pushing out lower income residents. Small scale green space solutions instead of grand projects are more likely to benefit those who need park access the most.

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Policy Implications

Sustainable policies that protect communities are needed to give all city residents access to the benefits of green spaces. Strategies that avoid an emphasis on tourism, cafes and riverwalks will likely better serve current residents. Policymakers should focus on promoting balanced green space solutions that help communities without facilitating gentrification.

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