The closer the green space, the closer the community


Proximity to accessible greenspaces increases local social cohesion, according to a four city European study involving over 1,300 people.

The paper,  published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, suggests that proximity to accessible greenspaces increases local social cohesion directly, but only indirectly improves people’s mental health through improving social cohesion. The study was limited to proximity and did not look at people’s engagement with green space, which meant that researchers were not able to make a direct link between this and mental health.

In the face of rises in mental illnesses there has been increasing interest in the role of community infrastructure in sustaining good mental health. Moreover, green spaces are anticipated to offer advantages for both mental health and social cohesion. However, the mediating pathway between green space, social cohesion and mental health and especially the proximity and characteristics of green spaces that trigger these potential effects remain of interest. The researchers gathered data from 1365 individuals on self-reported social cohesion and mental health across four satellite districts in European cities: Nantes (France), Porto (Portugal), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Høje-Taastrup (Denmark).

The results suggest that accessibility, connectivity, mix of use and proximity are key characteristics that drive the relationship between green spaces, social cohesion and mental health. This gives further guidance to urban planners and decision-makers on how to design urban green spaces to foster social cohesion and improve mental health. To read the full paper click here.

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