Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Assignment 4:Green space, urbanity, and health:how strong is the relation? by Jolanda Maas, Robert A Verheij, Peter P Groenewegen, Sjerp de Vries, Pet

The main purpose of this article is ‘to investigate the strength of the relation between the amount of green space in people’s living environment and their perceived general health’. This is a Dutch study and although the Netherlands is a densely populated country the authors think the same results would be found in the rest of Europe. The authors took into consideration different types of green space, pollution, lifestyle, education, income, age and class.

The most important information in this article is the findings of their research. The authors used a self-administered questionnaire. This was distributed via GP medical practices and was a large representative sample with over 76% positive response rate. There had been an assumption that those socio–economic groups who live in the country or were able to afford to move to the country were perceived to have a better quality of life and healthier lifestyle. No study until this one had looked at the impact of green space within our cities and its impact on the health of the population. The United Nations state that within the next 30 years more than two thirds of the population will live in urban environments. The Health Council of the Netherlands had done some research that indicated a connection between health and green space, however it identified gaps.

The authors used environmental data from the National Land Cover Classification that contains the type of land in every 25 x 25 m in the whole of the Netherlands to measure amount of green space around people’s homes. Many academic papers from around the world were use to support their research.

The conclusion in the article is that the percentage of green space in the vicinity of a person’s home has a positive impact on their perceived health. People who spent more time close to their home – the young and the elderly showed bigger benefits from green space. In addition, the less educated perceived a positive impact due to their lack of ability to move.

The key concepts underlying the author’s thinking are that different levels of socio-econmics groups and educational levels may have a significant impact on how an individual’s health is perceived and determines their ability to move.

The main assumption is that perceived health is as important as actual health and that green spaces have a positive impact on health. If we take this line of thinking seriously, then we need to make more provision of green space within our cities. Governments, planners and designers should take this research on board. If we fail to take this line of thinking seriously, then those people living in high-density urban areas where there is little green space may become marginalized and may become a burden on the health service.

The main point of view is that green space is not a luxury – it is essential. It is critical to the health and well being of a nation.

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