Green Space

Green space is a term that can mean a vast amount of things. Various disciplines and individuals define it to be various focus points. However, six definitions of green space has been identified through research. The six definitions relate to what is accepted as greenness, examples of green space, ecosystem services, green areas, land use, and vegetated areas.

Firstly, we can look at what is known as “greeness.” In this modern age, this term has acquired such a number of meanings, that is almost impossible to keep track of how it is used (Defining greenspace: Multiple uses across multiple disciplines). According to Almanza et. al., “Greenness describes level of vegetation, ranging from sparsely-landscaped streets to tree-lined walk-ways to playfields and forested parks” (2012). In this sense, one can say which cities or urban areas are more “green” than others. Such cities as Seattle and Kyiv, for example, are often referred to as green cities and sometimes are given special names to this effect like “the evergreen city.”

Oftentimes, a definition of something is seen through the lens of examples. Illustrations of what is being meant is commonly the most effective way to understand a concept. As stated by Tavernia et. al, examples of green space are, “combined areas of open land, cropland, urban open land, pasture, forest, and woody perennial” (2009). So, basically, any area that can be given as an example of green space can be become one. The word “combined” is important though, as it creates a holistic view of what green space is.

More straightforward is that green space comprises ecosystem services. These services usually pertain to how ecological systems can aid human life. According to Aydin et. al., green spaces can be defined as “a type of land use which has notable contributions to urban environments in terms of ecology, aesthetics or public health, but which basically serves human needs and uses” (2012). This can be seen as human-centric green thinking. It is does not have anything to do with environmental conservation.

In a more general context, green spaces are simply places that look green. That greenness can hark back to a natural sense of living. Stated by S. Gentin in a study on urban forestry and urban greening, “the area investigated included substantial green elements” (2001) when talking about a green space. This cancels out our over-intellectualizing about what we know of as green spaces. Yet, most prefer a more direct definition.

Maybe in reference to Thoreau and other famous wanderers of nature, another way to look at green spaces is that they are generic pieces of land. This pertains more to wild spaces. So, as Boone-Heinonen et. al. say, green space can be described as “recreational or undeveloped land” (2010).

Finally, some specialists in green space say it means a place that features vegetation strongly. This rules out the sense of just something appearing natural or the color itself of green (Heckert, M.).

As we can see, “green space” means various things to a multitude of specialists. These definitions range from what is perceived as greenness, illustrations of green space, ecosystem services, green areas, untamed land, and places that significantly have the presence of vegetation. So, comprehending what green space is is a messy process, as it depends on which expert you are talking to.


Defining greenspace: Multiple uses across multiple disciplines. (2016, October 08). Retrieved from

Almanza, E., Jerrett, M., Dunton, G., Seto, E., & Pentz, M. A. (2012). A study of community design, greenness, and physical activity in children using satellite, GPS and accelerometer data. Health & place, 18(1), 46–54. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.09.003

Tavernia, B. G., & Reed, J. M. (2009). Spatial extent and habitat context influence the nature and strength of relationships between urbanization measures. Landscape and Urban Planning, 92(1), 47–52. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2009.02.003

Aydin, M. B. S., & Cukur, D. (2012). Maintaining the carbon-oxygen balance in residential areas: A method proposal for land use planning. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 11(1), 87–94. doi: 10.1016/j.ufug.2011.09.008

Gentin, S. (2011). Outdoor recreation and ethnicity in Europe-A review. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 10(3), 153–161. doi: 10.1016/j.ufug.2011.05.002

Boone-Heinonen, J., Casanova, K., Richardson, A. S., & Gordon-Larsen, P. (2010). Where can they play? Outdoor spaces and physical activity among adolescents in US urbanized areas. Preventive Medicine, 51(3–4), 295–298. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.07.013

Heckert, M. (2013). Access and Equity in Greenspace Provision: A Comparison of Methods to Assess the Impacts of Greening Vacant Land. Transactions in Gis, 17(6), 808–827. doi: 10.1111/tgis.12000


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