Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by Ursula Bach

Urban Green Spaces Increase Happiness

For many years scientists have suggested that a person’s wellbeing could be linked to proximity to urban green spaces. Two recent studies have attempted to take a more scientific look at the correlation between health impacts and better access to urban green spaces.

A study from the University of Wisconsin reveals that, on average, residents claim to be happier the more green spaces there are in their neighborhood. The study drew conclusions from a statewide public health survey of over 2,500 residents of 229 cities and towns. Their responses were then assessed against an index of the vegetation per square mile in their neighborhood.

Photograph: Shotshop/Alamy via theguardian.com

Another study, carried out by the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, uses 18 years of survey data received from over 10,000 participants across the United Kingdom. Its research shows a strong connection between access to green spaces, self-reported well-being, and even physical health.

Many cities across Europe are now realising the importance of providing residents with access to green public spaces and thereby creating healthy livable cities. A healthy and livable urban environment not only attracts visitors and supports sustainable economic growth, as well as fostering social harmony.

Copenhagen, European Green Capital 2014, is aiming to become an eco-metropolis with the world’s best urban environment. At present, 96% of Copenhageners live within 15 minutes’ walk of what is defined as a large green or blue area, and work is underway to further improve access to recreational areas. It is estimated that by 2015, 80% of Copenhagen’s residents should be satisfied with urban life.