Effects on perceptions of greenspace benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Calls for investment in green infrastructures, which can provide a range of ecosystem services in support of sustainability and resilience, are increasing amidst the climate crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed for many the important benefits of greenspace to cultural ecosystem services, particularly to individuals’ own assessments of their mental and emotional health, or subjective well-being (SWB). This pandemic has also revealed the unevenness of these benefits. In order to better understand the contributions of greenspace to SWB, as well as the distribution of the benefits, during times of shared social-ecological disruption, we investigate perceptions of greenspace and their effect on SWB during the COVID-19 pandemic. We use a mixed methods approach combining data from surveys and interviews conducted with US post-secondary students. Our results indicate that perceiving the outdoors as good for you is related to higher levels of SWB. We also find that both prior experience with nature and current social-environmental circumstances play an important role in shaping this perception. When considered alongside research regarding environmental justice and children’s access to nature, these findings suggest a need for both distributional and intergenerational justice in greenspace planning, design, and management, as well as explicit attention to the role of greenspace in coping with future social-ecological disturbance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1279–1294
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 346534063