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Green Spaces

Greenspaces are beneficial for the community they are located in. City should strive to distribute them equitably and ensure community input.

What are Green Spaces?

According to the EPA, open space is any open piece of land that is undeveloped (has no buildings or other built structures) and is accessible to the public.1 Some examples include schoolyards, public seating areas, public plazas, and vacant lots. These lands offer intrinsic value to communities by serving as hubs for local commerce and recreation. Green spaces–plots that are partly or completely covered by vegetation, including parks, community gardens, and cemeteries–are part of these important community spaces.

Green spaces are beneficial for the community in which they are located. They serve as recreational areas for relaxation and exercise, as well as enhancing the environmental beauty within a neighborhood.2 These spaces present economic benefits for communities, such as the preservation of natural marshlands, swamps, flatlands, or mountain ranges can attract visitors or new businesses. Green spaces are also positive for human well-being, improving both physical and mental health by providing public access for public recreation3.

As the population continues to grow, developers are realizing the importance of greenspace when designing new housing developments, but the creation of new green spaces on existing developed land can bring challenges to the community. In Los Angeles, CA, policies like the Displacement Avoidance Plan have been established to connect open and green spaces with the neighboring communities to avoid the displacement of long-time, lower-income residents as a result of gentrification.  In particular, the Los Angeles County WHAM taskforce invests in clean and safe water, housing and homeless services, parks and open space, transportation, and climate resilience4–a plan that could greatly benefit Georgian communities, if adapted to this state.

In response to climate change, green space can be thoughtfully designed to capture carbon dioxide, balance water use and movement, and reduce heat islands in urban areas5. These promote the maintenance of clean water and air, as well as reduce the chance for public health epidemics from poor environmental quality. These measures can also protect from soil erosion, inland flooding, and include spaces for urban agriculture for the ever-increasing food demand6. Groups like the Atlanta Heat Island Project have mapped extreme heat in underserved communities of the city and have established guidelines that could be reduced with the incorporation of green spaces7.

References & Resouces

1.         What is Open Space / Green Space? Environmental Protection Agency.

2.        Growing Smart 4.

3.        Gianfredi V, Buffoli M, Rebecchi A, Croci R, Oradini-Alacreu A, Stirparo G, Marino A, Odone A, Capolongo S, Signorelli C. Association between Urban Greenspace and Health: A Systematic Review of Literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 May 12;18(10):5137. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18105137. PMID: 34066187; PMCID: PMC8150317.

4.        LA ROSAH – https://larosah.org/our-work/policy-priorities/

5.        Demuzere M, Orru K, Heidrich O, Olazabal E, Geneletti D, Orru H, Bhave AG, Mittal N, Feliu E, Faehnle M. Mitigating and adapting to climate change: multi-functional and multi-scale assessment of green urban infrastructure. J Environ Manage. 2014 Dec 15;146:107-115. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.07.025. Epub 2014 Aug 24. PMID: 25163601.

6.        Nassary EK, Msomba BH, Masele WE, Ndaki PM, Kahangwa CA. Exploring urban green packages as part of Nature-based Solutions for climate change adaptation measures in rapidly growing cities of the Global South. J Environ Manage. 2022 May 15;310:114786. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.114786. Epub 2022 Feb 28. PMID: 35240569.

7.        Urban Heat ATL – https://urbanheatatl.org/data/

8.        Gascon M, Triguero-Mas M, Martínez D, Dadvand P, Forns J, Plasència A, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ. Mental health benefits of long-term exposure to residential green and blue spaces: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Apr 22;12(4):4354-79. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120404354. PMID: 25913182; PMCID: PMC4410252.

9.       Urband Displacement Project – https://www.urbandisplacement.org/about/what-are-gentrification-and-displacement/

10.      Cole HVS, Garcia Lamarca M, Connolly JJT, Anguelovski I. Are green cities healthy and equitable? Unpacking the relationship between health, green space and gentrification. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017 Nov;71(11):1118-1121. doi: 10.1136/jech-2017-209201. Epub 2017 Aug 19. PMID: 28822977.

11.      Anguelovskia, et al. Why green “climate gentrification” threatens poor and vulnerable populations. Dec 26, 2019. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1920490117

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