During the pandemic, many people strengthened their bonds with urban nature. Cities are becoming more cognizant of the value of urban green spaces as society “builds back better” from COVID-19. Access to urban green spaces can enhance social cohesion, physical and mental health, and child development. In order to sustain their wellbeing, urban inhabitants increasingly depend on being able to access, enjoy, and interact with urban green spaces as their cities grow. Although urban green spaces are important, they are not widely accessible (Quinton, Nesbitt, and Czekajlo 2022). Cities, increasingly aware of this challenge, are improving access to green spaces for underserved residents via equity-focused plans and policies. For example, Vancouver Parks and Recreation has mapped tree canopy, park access, and recreation demand to identify priority areas for resource investment (Anon 2019). However, cities must be wary of the possibility of “green gentrification,” which happens when gentrification-related issues are brought on by urban greening activities.
Urban green equity
Urban green equity is the equitable access to and governance of urban forests (Nesbitt et al. 2019).Urban forests, which are composed of urban trees and parks, provide a variety of ecosystem services to city residents and are unquestionably crucial to their wellbeing. However, urban parks and trees are not equally distributed throughout the various cities in the world (Quinton et al. 2022). Factors such as access to ecosystem services and the ability for inhabitants to manage them are two important aspects of urban green equity that are influenced by the distribution of urban forests and their acknowledgement in urban forest governance (Nesbitt et al. 2019). Here, distributional equity and recognitional equity are the concepts used to describe these factors. While recognitional equity refers to the fair representation of stakeholders within and equitable control over decision-making processes involving urban forests, distributional equity refers to the equitable distribution of urban forests (Nesbitt et al. 2019).
In a recent study, the distribution of urban vegetation in 31 Canadian communities was evaluated to see if any social, economic, or demographic variables were linked to a closer proximity to greenery (Quinton et al. 2022). In many places, closeness to greenery was positively correlated with factors like higher household income and educational level, whereas the number of millennial residents was frequently adversely correlated. Few variables, such as the percentage of visible minorities, Indigenous people, and recent immigrants, demonstrated an infrequent access with urban vegetation (Quinton et al. 2022). These findings emphasize the need for planning and management strategies that are customized to each Canadian demographic in order to increase green equity for disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Building a more just world includes ensuring that everyone has equal access to first-rate green amenities.
What is green gentrification?
Green gentrification is the practice of increasing perceived local desirability through environmental greening, which raises property values and rents. In the context of climate change and urban sustainability reasoning, “greening” can refer to a variety of “win-win” strategies, from environmental investments to sustainability initiatives and green rhetoric (Anon n.d.). The most common forms of urban greening are installing trees, parks, and landscaped green areas in newly built urban projects. These many greening strategies are used to promote capital and wealth accumulation in gentrifying environments. A combination of new, wealthy inhabitants and businesses that appeal to the new wealthier residents interests may occur, while lower-income, longer-term residents may experience growing living expenses, the disappearance of local institutions, and actual eviction (Anon n.d.).
Green gentrification is neither a justification for decreasing investments in greening our neighbourhoods, nor is it one for lowering the standard of these green amenities in order to prevent property values from rising. We have a responsibility and a chance to comprehend green urban infrastructure in relation to housing, ownership, and property systems as a result of green gentrification (Rigolon and Németh 2018).
Here are a few Recommendations to avoid green gentrification (Rigolon and Christensen n.d.)
Participate in the development of strategies to prevent eviction near new urban green spaces. Community engagement can give local individuals and community-based organizations chances to educate local governments about the issues and opportunities for solutions because public park agencies and elected officials don’t always recognize the threat of green gentrification.
Combat the problem of gentrification from two separate angles. The two separate angles raising income and maintaining affordable housing. These would include the combination of the development and preservation of affordable housing with programs to provide better-paying jobs for local inhabitants. Projects that have a more conscious focus on equity from their creation employ these multidisciplinary techniques in their preliminary stages.
For a broader, longer-lasting impact that goes beyond one or two urban greening projects, incorporate a requirement for displacement avoidance methods into policies, legislation, and park financing implementation at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels.
Incorporate advocates for parks and housing in collaboratives. An integrated planning process should comprise meaningful communication and collaborations between park organizations and housing organizations. Thus, developing a park, and designing displacement avoidance techniques ought to go hand in hand.
Anon. 2019. Vancouvers Parks and Recreation:
Anon. n.d. “Green Gentrification.” 2.
Nesbitt, Lorien, Michael J. Meitner, Cynthia Girling, and Stephen R. J. Sheppard. 2019. “Urban Green Equity on the Ground: Practice-Based Models of Urban Green Equity in Three Multicultural Cities.” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 44:126433. doi: 10.1016/j.ufug.2019.126433.
Quinton, Jessica, Lorien Nesbitt, and Agatha Czekajlo. 2022. “Wealthy, Educated, And… Non-Millennial? Variable Patterns of Distributional Inequity in 31 Canadian Cities.” Landscape and Urban Planning 227:104535. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2022.104535.
Rigolon, Alessandro, and Jon Christensen. n.d. “Learning from Parks-Related Anti-Displacement Strategies Nationwide.” 5.Rigolon, Alessandro, and Jeremy Németh. 2018. “‘We’re Not in the Business of Housing:’ Environmental Gentrification and the Nonprofitization of Green Infrastructure Projects.” Cities 81:71–80. doi: 10.1016/j.cities.2018.03.016.