Urban Green Infrastructure and Green Open Spaces: An Issue of Social Fairness in Times of COVID-19 Crisis

Urban Green Infrastructure and Green Open Spaces: An Issue of Social Fairness in Times of COVID-19 Crisis

Florian Reinwald, Daniela Haluza, Ulrike Pitha & Rosemarie Stangl

Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10606; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910606

At the time of the restrictions and lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent how difficult it is for city dwellers to adhere to the prescribed behavioural measures and the protective distance in densely built urban areas. Inner-city parks and green spaces were heavily used for recreational purposes and were thus periodically overcrowded. These observations highlight the need for green open spaces in urban areas, especially in exceptional situations regarding pandemics and climate-related heat periods. Green open spaces and greened buildings help cities and the population cope with the consequences of climate change and have a decisive positive effect on human health and well-being. This paper aims to outline which social issues are related to the availability of green infrastructure close to home and which health consequences need to be considered. The COVID-19 challenges could offer a chance and an opportunity to increase the resilience of cities and their inhabitants in various terms. A cross-disciplinary team of authors (public health, urban and landscape planning, landscaping and vegetation technologies science) describes and discusses challenges and opportunities that arise from this crisis for cities from an inter-disciplinary perspective, concluding that urban green infrastructure helps in two ways: to adapt to climate change and the challenges posed by COVID-19.