2014 Jun 20

Informal urban green-space: comparison of quantity and characteristics in Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan

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Abstract: Informal urban green-space (IGS) such as vacant lots, brownfields and street or railway verges is receiving growing attention from urban scholars. Research has shown IGS can provide recreational space for residents and habitat for flora and fauna, yet we know little about the quantity, spatial distribution, vegetation structure or accessibility of IGS. We also lack a commonly accepted definition of IGS and a method that can be used for its rapid quantitative assessment. This paper advances a definition and typology of IGS that has potential for global application. Based on this definition, IGS land use percentage in central Brisbane, Australia and Sapporo, Japan was systematically surveyed in a 10×10 km grid containing 121 sampling sites of 2,500 m2 per city, drawing on data recorded in the field and aerial photography. Spatial distribution, vegetation structure and accessibility of IGS were also analyzed. We found approximately 6.3% of the surveyed urban area in Brisbane and 4.8% in Sapporo consisted of IGS, a non-significant difference. The street verge IGS type (80.4% of all IGS) dominated in Brisbane, while lots (42.2%) and gaps (19.2%) were the two largest IGS types in Sapporo. IGS was widely distributed throughout both survey areas. Vegetation structure showed higher tree cover in Brisbane, but higher herb cover in Sapporo. In both cities over 80% of IGS was accessible or partly accessible. The amount of IGS we found suggests it could play a more important role than previously assumed for residents’ recreation and nature experience as well as for fauna and flora, because it substantially increased the amount of potentially available greenspace in addition to parks and conservation greenspace. We argue that IGS has potential for recreation and conservation, but poses some challenges to urban planning. To address these challenges, we propose some directions for future research.

Authors: Rupprecht, C. D. D., Byrne, J
Journal: PLOS One
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099784

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