Urban green, urban blue spaces and health

Today, we can find more and more information about direct and indirect positive contribution of urban green and blue spaces to psychological, mental, physical and social well-being and health.

Green spaces as well blue spaces can offer stimulus and motivation for physical action, counteract fears and depressive symptoms, have positive effects on sense of stress, contribute to well-being, and are associated with a higher vitality and lower premature mortality in old age. Besides, they can balance environmental stressors, such as noise or climatic extremes.

Urban green spaces – as well as stretches of water – may act as important social systems and meeting places by influencing the social well-being and offering people of all ages experience, meeting, activity and regeneration places.

Indeed, numerous new studies demonstrate that deprived population groups are more often subject of environmental conditions that are detrimental to their health (for instance because of traffic, noise pollution or air pollutants) and that the access to nature-like recreational areas is below average for the inhabitants of deprived municipal areas. Besides, the quality of green spaces around municipal areas of low socio-economic status is often worse.

Nevertheless, there are still several, mostly unsolved questions concerning

  • the factual perception and usage of these spaces by different population groups,
  • possible different effects of urban blue and urban green spaces to health of different population groups as well as different perception and evaluation of usability and possible health benefits,
  • possible causal connections between the effect of urban green spaces and blue spaces with regards to health or the transferability of international study results and the conditions in Germany and
  • the entanglement of interests as regards health and social well-being with urban green spaces and urban blue in the urban planning routines.

Finding answers to those questions is crucial when developing preventive strategies and steps for health enhancing urban development. This is exactly the starting point of the Young Researchers Group Urban Landscapes & Health– their research results will be presented and discussed during the conference Healthy Urban Landscapes of the Future to a national and international audience of specialists.