We know that spending time in nature is good for physical and mental well-being, but social inequality means not everyone has easy access to parks, gardens and woodland.
Cities can prepare for climate change emergencies by adding green spaces to help manage stormwater, heat stress and air quality.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the lack of green space available to those living in urban areas. Cities must be managed as ecosystems to make them more liveable and resilient.
Melbourne Sky Park, between the CBD grid and Docklands precinct.
Oculus, used with permission
The release of a roadmap for green roofs, walls and facades in Australia can help our cities catch up with the world leaders in urban greening.
Circles painted on the grass in San Francisco’s Dolores Park encourage social distancing and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
(AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Spending some time outdoors can help restore mental well-being, but physical distancing remains important during the coronavirus pandemic.
The design called for plants and play spaces – big improvements over brick and razor wire.
Iowa State University student design team
About half of incarcerated women in the United States are mothers to children under age 18. Natural spaces within a prison can help maintain their mother-child bonds.
COVID-19 has upturned uses of public spaces that we took for granted. Will shifts in the regulation of these spaces lead to a change in thinking about who “owns” the city?
Hyde Park, London.
Parks have a vital role to play for both physical and mental wellbeing.
At the peak of a summer heatwave in Adelaide, an aerial survey of land surface temperatures reveals just how much cooler neighbourhoods with good tree and vegetation cover can be.
Our mental health benefits when nature is part of our neighbourhoods, as in this residential street in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
It's well-established that green spaces are good for our well-being. Now we can demonstrate that greater biodiversity boosts this benefit, as well as helping to sustain native plants and animals.
The lure of suburbia clearly remains strong. To deal with sprawl, planners need to increase urban density in a way that resonates with the leafy green qualities of suburbia that residents value.
Residents of the 'leafy suburbs' will continue to fear what they might lose to increasing urban density without an explicit planning approach that enhances green space in affected neighbourhoods.
Even the standard grassed nature strip has value for local wildlife.
When so much of the green space in our cities is in the form of nature strips, current restrictions on plantings are denying us the many social and environmental benefits of more diverse greenery.
Sea Line Park, one of the shortlisted entries in the competition to design a new park for the Melbourne of 2050.
Future Park Design Ideas Competition
Some might scoff at the free-ranging ideas sparked by a competition to design future parks for Melbourne. But the legacy of a radical idea to green a CBD street in 1985 shows why we need such thinking.
On Akure’s edges, which used to be mainly farmland, buildings are taking over.
City officials have not considered how approaches like mixed-use developments closer to the city centre might alleviate the housing shortage as well as protect Akure's green spaces.
Hampstead Heath, London.
The UK's surviving urban commons are precious green spaces, but the laws that protect them are confusing, complicated and in some cases outdated.
Imagine Hyde Park in Sydney without its tree cover … the impact on this space and the many people who spend time in it would be profound.
Cities around Australia have plans to increase their green space, but new research shows not all green spaces are equal. Good tree cover is better than grassed areas for residents' mental health.
Living near green spaces is associated with better cognition.
Some previous research suggests people living in rural areas may be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. But these results tell a different story.
Contact with nature reduces stress and aggression, one reason scholars say urban green space may reduce violence.
Some parks reduce violence in the local vicinity. Other parks attract crime. The difference has to do with how these urban green spaces are designed, programmed and managed, experts say.
Koalas can adapt to urban areas with enough suitable green spaces but would benefit from wildlife crossing areas to reduce their risk of being hit by cars.
Koalas can cope with the stresses of city life provided we plan urban developments in ways that help meet their basic needs.
Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland National Park, UK.
Approximately 50% of the UK's poorest people live over 15 miles from a national park and most people require transport to get to them.
Tiny Paley Park, surrounded by skyscrapers in New York City, introduced the concept of a ‘pocket park’ in dense urban centers.
Research shows that access to urban green space makes people and neighborhoods healthier. But parks can't work their magic if their design ignores the needs of nearby communities.