Researchers from Wageningen UR have found that the total amount of green space in large Dutch municipalities has barely increased in recent years. There are, however, significant differences between municipalities. Researchers calculated the amount of green space based on extensive up-to-date data sets. Heerlen, Emmen and Lelystad led the ranking based on the number of square meters of public green space in the city limits, divided by the number of homes. Green space in the city is important for adaptation to climate change and contributes to a pleasant living environment.
A green urban environment has many advantages, as earlier research from Wageningen UR found. Peter Visschedijk, researcher at Wageningen UR: ‘Both in the Netherlands and worldwide, most of the population live in cities, often located in deltas. Those cities benefit from Wageningen’s expertise regarding how the green environment can improve their liveability and resilience.’ Green space has a positive effect on human health and its introduction improves the environment by reducing air pollution and muffling sound pollution. Another important feature is its ability to absorb water during heavy rainfall and to cool the environment during warm periods.
Total amount of green space remains the same
Specialists from the Alterra research institute, part of Wageningen UR, compiled the rankings by using up-to-date data sets to calculate the number of square meters of public green space in the city limits of large Dutch municipalities. The methodology is based on earlier research carried out in 2002, 2003 and 2009. Researchers used geographic information systems (GIS) and worked with datasets, such as the latest CBS land use data. To enable an accurate comparison, the analysis was performed on data from the same 31 municipalities that were included in the 2009 research. It is striking that, in comparison with the 2009 measurement, the average number of square meters of public green space in large Dutch municipalities has barely changed, but there were large differences between some cities. The four biggest Dutch municipalities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, managed to increase their amount of green space.
Peter Visschedijk: ‘It’s nice that some Dutch municipalities increased the amount of green space in the city. This will certainly contribute to improving the living and business climates. We did not examine the reasons for the rise or fall in this analysis, but in some cases it could possibly be explained by the area in question being used differently, because of new construction projects or other infrastructural adjustments, which may have both positive and negative effects.’
Call to residents: Share pictures of green spaces
Researchers from Wageningen UR are curious about how city residents perceive green space. Does the image and appreciation of urban green space correspond to the rankings, or are there other elements that contribute to individual perceptions? In order to gain more insight, Wageningen UR is calling for people to share their photos and appreciation of urban green space via Facebook (www.facebook.com/groups/hoegroenisjouwstad) or Twitter (@WageningenUR #groenindestad). The collected images and observations will be bundled in the autumn and offered to representatives of municipalities, to support policymaking.
Ranking of the greenest municipalities in the Netherlands
Wageningen UR calculated the amount of public green space per square meter in city limits, divided by the number of homes for 31 large Dutch municipalities which resulted in the following ranking: