Experiencing the Urban Green Space - An exploratory study of visiting behaviour, perceptions and preferences in the urban green spaces of São Paulo, Brazil
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In an ever more urbanising world the role of urban green space is crucial to maintain and enhance the quality of life in cities. Green spaces provide cities with a flexible instrument to adapt to climate change, encourage social interaction and community identity, promote an active lifestyle, generate local employment and increase property values, and urban vegetation shapes a city by providing it with a natural and historical structure. The ways in which urban green space is used and perceived in the metropolis of São Paulo, Brazil is explored in four case study parks located in diverse socioeconomic contexts. Green space utilisation and their perceived quality are found to be related to socioeconomic factors and to the physicality of the green space in question. Women for example, are found to engage more in walking, meeting friends, playing with children and enjoying the landscape whereas men prefer to exercise or play team sports. Green spaces in more deprived urban areas are perceived as less well-maintained, unsafe, offering few leisure facilities and play and sport equipment is of a low quality. Green space designers, planners and managers need to be better informed about the people who use urban green areas, about the neighbourhoods in which they will be created, about the recreational demands of current and future users and about the functionality of existing green spaces. Only then the use of urban green space will increase and the quality of life for urban residents can be sustained and enhanced.