Nature, Green Spaces and Outdoor Recreation

The research fields of this multidisciplinary group are the socio-cultural contributions of nature to people provided by urban and rural green and blue spaces and the governance of these spaces as complex social-ecological-technological systems. The research includes outdoor recreation, green space management, and cultural ecosystem services.

People relaxing in the park

Key Research Themes

  • Monitoring programmes/inventories for outdoor activities
  • Outdoor recreation planning and management
  • Outdoor recreation of various user groups
  • Conflicts related to outdoor recreation activities
  • Forest and landscape preferences, sense of place and view of nature and values
  • Children's activities in nature and connectedness to nature
  • Experience and accessibility mapping
  • Garden and nature based tourism
  • Urban forestry and urban greening
  • Green spaces and city branding
  • Social aspects of blue-green infrastructures and nature-based solutions
  • Coastal and marine recreation - maritime spatial planning
  • Ethics related to hunting and wildlife management
  • Citizen science and participatory mapping
  • Participatory governance and volunteering
  • Active mobility and nature experiences
  • Social acceptability of transformative green infrastructure planning and management 
  • Urban ecosystem services and disservices
  • Climate change adaptation and resilience

Guiding Policy Makers, Planners, and Managers

The applied perspective of our research aims at guiding policy makers, planners, and managers, which is manifested in e.g. project collaboration with cities, municipalities and agencies. 






Major research projects

  • Outdoor Recreation 2022-23 - A national trend and demand survey
  • Attitudes to "naturnationalparker" - A national survey
  • Local monitoring of outdoor recreation in "naturnationalparker"
  • Collective Impact Det åbne land som dobbelt ressource (Evaluation of recreational benefits from land consolidation projects under the Collective Impact project: “Landscape as a double resource”)
  • VIVA-PLAN is about revitalising in-between spaces in residential housing areas to promote nature conservation, social inclusion and human well-being. The project aim is to develop sustainable plans with social and ecological values for public areas to engage local residents in active participation in proposed activities.
  • SMARTer Greener Cities. Funded by Nordforsk, SMARTer Greener Cities aims to develop and test novel tools and processes for explicitly converging social, ecological, and technological approaches. The convergence of these approaches will promote resilient and equitable urban futures in Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, and generate new opportunities for transformative change and increasing resilience to extreme events in other Nordic cities.
  • Planning with youth. Engaging, meaningful and forward-looking participation of youngsters in shaping attractive and sustainable living environments. This project aims to
    1) systematically and empirically assessing challenges with youth involvement planning,
    2) testing and comparing alternative tools with youngsters (13-18 years), and
    3) develop an intergenerational framework for planning of blue-green infrastructure in public places.
  • CO-CARBON, Funded by the Finnish Academy of Science, CO-CARBON will develop a new concept of carbon-smart UGI, and through co-creative processes, create science-based solutions to support its implementation among the society. A systemic approach is used to maximise carbon-smart solutions together with other environmental and societal factors.
  • Center for Børn og Natur: (Children & Nature – Denmark). Leading the partnership between six stakeholders with various projects about children’s use of nature and connections to nature – including national surveys 

Completed projects

  • Evaluering af 115 kystfacilitetsprojekter i ’Kysten er Klar puljen (Nordea-fonden)
  • Kystfriluftsfaciliteter i Danmark (FR & LOA)
  • INUT-projektet (Innovationsfonden)
  • Havfriluftsliv (Online mapping survey of water-related activities)
  • ØKOMAR-projektet (Villumfonden)
  • Havplan Kattegat-projekt (Foreningen Bæredygtig Kystkultur)
  • Blåt friluftsliv i Morsø og det vestlige del af Limfjorden (Morsø Kommune)
  • European COST Action "Ocean Governance for Sustainability - Challenges, Options and the Role of Science"
  • GREEN SURGE (Green Infrastructure and Urban Biodiversity for Sustainable Urban Development and the Green Economy)
  • Cost Action FP1204 GreenInUrbs (Green Infrastructure approach - linking environmental with social aspects in studying and managing urban forests)
  • DIABOLO (Distributed, Integrated And Harmonised Forest Information For Bioeconomy Outlooks)
  • Fremtidens Landskaber
  • Barrierer for offentlighedens adgang til naturen. A national survey of barriers (signs, fences etc.) which may obstruct public access to the Danish countryside and nature areas

PhD projects

  • Yu Liu: Promotion of active mobility in urban greenery
  • Oriol García-Antúnez: Social acceptability of transformative urban green infrastructure planning and management.
  • Ping Chang: ​​Data integrity towards inclusive transformative change: place, justice, and technology
  • Jonas Vester Legarth: Travel cost analysis of sociodemographic factors affecting motivation to and constraints to engagement in outdoor recreation.

Completed PhD projects















Master courses with course responsibility in the group:

Nature Perception – Theories and Methods for Investigation

Urban Forestry, Urban Greening

Outdoor Recreation – Planning and Management

In addition, members of the group supervise 10-20 bachelor and master theses yearly. Contact us if you are interested in thesis project supervision.





See the research group's Danish site Natur, parker og friluftsliv

Members of the Research Group

Name Title Phone E-mail
Search in Name Search in Title Search in Phone
Anton Stahl Olafsson Associate Professor +4535331808 E-mail
Berit Charlotte Kaae Senior Researcher +4535331811 E-mail
Frank Søndergaard Jensen Professor +4535331814 E-mail
Hans Skov-Petersen Professor +4523828045 E-mail
Jonas Vester Legarth Research Assistant +4535331357 E-mail
Megan Lynn Maurer Assistant Professor +4535337767 E-mail
Natalie Marie Gulsrud Associate Professor - Promotion Programme +4521865524 E-mail
Oriol García Antúnez Research Assistant +4535325037 E-mail
Ping Chang PhD Student   E-mail
Sandra Gentin Teaching Associate Professor +4535331662 E-mail
Søren Præstholm Special Consultant +4535331633 E-mail
Yu Liu PhD Student +4535329707 E-mail

Head of Research Group

Anton Stahl OlafssonAnton Stahl Olafsson
Associate Professor

Tel.: +45 35331808