Handbook of Cities and the Environment
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Handbook of Cities and the Environment

Edited by Kevin Archer and Kris Bezdecny

With an ever-growing majority of the world's human population living in city spaces, the relationship between cities and nature will be one of the key environmental issues of the 21st Century. This book brings together a diverse set of authors to explore the various aspects of this relationship both theoretically and empirically. Rather than considering cities as wholly separate from nature, a running theme throughout the book is that cities, and city dwellers, should be characterized as intrinsic in the creation of specifically urban-generated ‘socio-natures’.
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Chapter 12: Green space in urban sustainability plans: trends and best practices

Lisa Benton-Short, Melissa Keeley and Jennifer Rowland


In recent years, US cities have begun to develop sustainability plans. The approach, content, and foci of these plans vary dramatically, and no template or articulated best practices exist for the creation of these plans. Green spaces such as parks, trees, and urban gardens can play a central role in sustainable planning exercises and the inclusion and use of urban green space in municipal planning is one way for municipalities to address multiple environmental, economic, and social sustainability issues simultaneously. We have utilized content analysis and coding of 20 municipal sustainability plans to gain insight into how US cities conceptualize urban green space. The chapter will examine the ways in which green space is organized in sustainability plans, the language used to discuss green space, how cities value the benefits that green spaces provide, and how cities integrate issues of social equity in green space planning. We conclude that many plans value green space for primarily environmental benefits, while issues of economic and social benefits and the equity with which they are distributed are less articulated. The chapter will also highlight selected best practices as a way to guide more effective green space planning. Keywords: best practices in planning, green space, parks, street trees, sustainability plans, urban gardens

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