Challenges of urban green space management in the face of using inadequate data

Authors: Marcin Feltynowski, Jakub Kronenberg, Tomasz Bergier, Nadja Kabisch, Edyta Łaszkiewicz, Michael Strohbach

Type: Article peer review

Effective urban planning, and urban green space management in particular, require proper data on urban green spaces. The potential of urban green spaces to provide benefits to urban inhabitants (ecosystem services) depends on whether they are managed as a comprehensive system of urban green infrastructure, or as isolated islands falling under the responsibility of different stakeholders. Meanwhile, different urban green space datasets are based on different definitions, data sources, sampling techniques, time periods and scales, which poses important challenges to urban green infrastructure planning, management and research. Using the case study of Lodz, the third largest city in Poland, and an additional analysis of 17 other Polish cities, we compare data from five publicly available sources: 1) public statistics, 2) the national land surveying agency, 3) satellite imagery (Landsat data), 4) the Urban Atlas, 5) the Open Street Map. The results reveal large differences in the total amount of urban green spaces in the cities as depicted in different datasets. In Lodz, the narrowly interpreted public statistics data, which are aspatial, suggest that green spaces account for only 12.8% of city area, while the most comprehensive dataset from the national land surveying agency reveals the figure of 61.2%. The former dataset, which excludes many types of green spaces (such as arable land, private and informal green spaces), is still the most commonly used. The analysis of the 17 other cities confirms the same pattern. This results in broader institutional failures related to urban green infrastructure planning, management, and research, including a lack of awareness of green space quality (e.g. connectivity) and benefits (ecosystem services), and the related political disregard for urban green spaces. Our comparison suggests that a better understanding of green space data sources is necessary in urban planning, and especially when planning urban green infrastructure.

Feltynowski, M., J. Kronenberg, T. Bergier, N. Kabisch, E. Łaszkiewicz, and M. Strohbach. 2018. Challenges of urban green space management in the face of using inadequate data. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 31: 56–66.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2017.12.003