What Is Greenspace?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Greenspaces provide a place for butterflies to live.
Greenspaces provide a place for butterflies to live.

Greenspace is an area within an urban environment which is dedicated to nature. One of the most familiar forms of greenspace is a recreational park, such as New York City's famous Central Park, although the space can also take the form of urban wetlands or urban forest canopy. Many societies have historically valued parks, and in the later half of the 20th century, many additional benefits were discovered by researchers.

Greenspaces often have hiking trails.
Greenspaces often have hiking trails.

In an anthropocentric sense, greenspace provides a place to recreate. Many spaces have hiking trails, picnic lawns, and other areas which are geared to human use. People often enjoy wandering around in parks, attending events held in parks such as concerts, and experiencing the natural environment. Many cities around the world have famous parks and greens along with botanic gardens, and some of these spaces have been enjoyed for centuries.

Some areas have been set aside and preserved in a natural state.
Some areas have been set aside and preserved in a natural state.

In addition to being nice to look at and enjoyable to play in, greenspace also has a number of other benefits. Researchers on urban temperatures and air quality have discovered that the more greenspace a city has, the healthier it is. Large swaths of green can act as air scrubbers, with plants pulling pollution out of the air and emitting oxygen as a byproduct, and this type of space can also help to regulate the temperature in a city, preventing radical fluctuations which can make urban life unpleasant.

Greenspaces allow for recreation in urban areas.
Greenspaces allow for recreation in urban areas.

Greenspace also provides a natural habitat for animals, and in some cases, thriving wildlife communities have arisen in these areas. The space helps to preserve the natural environment and the diversity of regional species, from butterflies to birds, and many biologists believe that this is beneficial.

Greenspace also helps with water conservation. Urban forest canopies reduce the rate of evaporation, keeping water in a city, and urban wetlands help reduce flooding and manage stormwater runoff. The environmental benefits do not generally conflict with human uses, making the choice to prioritize it in city planning much easier.

Biking trails may be included as part of a greenspace.
Biking trails may be included as part of a greenspace.

A growing number of cities have recognized the need for green infrastructure in the form of parks, greenbelts around new development, living walls and roofs, and other measures. Many city plans include a statement about a desire to maintain or expand urban greenspace to make life healthier and more pleasant for residents.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Greenspaces provide a place for butterflies to live.
      By: NJ
      Greenspaces provide a place for butterflies to live.
    • Greenspaces often have hiking trails.
      By: joda
      Greenspaces often have hiking trails.
    • Some areas have been set aside and preserved in a natural state.
      By: BabylonDesignz
      Some areas have been set aside and preserved in a natural state.
    • Greenspaces allow for recreation in urban areas.
      By: markskalny
      Greenspaces allow for recreation in urban areas.
    • Biking trails may be included as part of a greenspace.
      By: david hughes
      Biking trails may be included as part of a greenspace.