International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM)

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Dr. Liz O'Brien will present "Well-being benefits from urban forests and greenspace for diverse sections of society".


This presentation will explore issues of social and environmental justice with a specific focus on who is not accessing and gaining benefits from urban forests and greenspace. Particular sections of society such as the income deprived, the disabled and ethnic minority groups may not have the same access to greenspace that more affluent sections of society enjoy. Participants from a European Union network on Green Infrastructure drew on evidence from survey data on recreational use of forests and greenspace in thirteen countries to explore issues of social and demographic distribution of access to and use of these spaces. The results highlight that some social groups are under-represented in having access to and gaining benefit from these spaces. We show that many studies are not urban specific and do not report results differentiated by urban and more rural populations. We identify some of the barriers that different groups face in accessing these spaces. We conclude that while urban forests and wider greenspace can provide a wide range of benefits not all section of society are equally able to these gain benefits. This can be a social and environmental justice issue due to distribution of these spaces, with less and poorer quality greenspace in more deprived areas – distributive justice. There are also potential procedural justice issues with some sections of society being less likely to be included in decision making about the development, creation and improvement of urban forests and greenspace. A range of policies, programmes and grassroots actions are outlined from different European countries which target, reach out and enable and encourage a greater diversity of people –including under-represented groups –to access and enjoy the benefits of urban forests and greenspaces.