New Paper: Nature Experiences in Cities

Experiences with nature are central to human health and well being and as urbanization continues to increase in scale and intensity around the world there is mounting concern that we are becoming increasingly isolated from nature. However, almost nothing is known about how we can maintain people’s experiences with nature as cities grow. We quantify how people’s opportunities to experience nature might change with future urban growth in the city of Brisbane, Australia using spatially explicit, statistical models to predict changes in backyard size, public green space provision, and bird species richness close to households. We discovered that the form of urban growth could strongly influence people’s opportunities to experience nature in cities. With a sprawling form of urban growth, with low residential densities and few interstitial green spaces, our models suggest severe declines in access to public green space and bird species richness around people’s homes, concentrated in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. Our results suggest that we can help maintain people’s experiences with nature in cities and perhaps avoid widening the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged sectors of society by building higher density residential areas in the spaces between high quality green spaces.

Sushinsky, J.R., J.R. Rhodes, D.F. Shanahan, H.P. Possingham and R.A. Fuller. 2017. Maintaining experiences of nature as a city grows. Ecology and Society 22(3): 22.