Amsterdam and the spatial justice debate: Studying the distributional equality of urban greenery
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Green spaces are crucial for urban functioning, since they provide many indispensable benefits. Considering these benefits, urban green spaces (UGS) should be equally distributed over the population. However, this is not always the case: many scholars believe that neighbourhoods with a high socioeconomic status (SES) have more greenery than neighbourhoods with a low SES. Additionally, UGS is often treated as an uniform whole, with no distinction between public and private, even though they have different meanings to their users. The following research will consider these issues in Amsterdam. This thesis therefore has three aims: (1) to develop a method to properly distinguish between private and public vegetation; (2) to provide insight into the spatial equality of the distribution of urban green spaces in Amsterdam; and (3) to contribute to the broader societal dialogue concerning spatial justice in relation to UGS. These objectives generated the following research question: How spatially equal is the distribution of private and public green spaces in the city of Amsterdam and how does this relate to the spatial justice debate? In this GIS-based research, a distinction between private and public green spaces will be made and the distributions of those will be studied in relation to SES. Afterwards, the results will be validated by linking them to existing literature. The results show great disparities in the amount of green space between neighbourhoods. Residents of neighbourhoods located more in the outskirts of the city have access to more private and public UGS. Private green space is more equally distributed than public green space, but still with large differences. Additionally, high SES neighbourhoods are located in the city centre and south of the centre, whereas low SES neighbourhoods are found more towards the boundaries of the city. Visual interpretation of these patterns suggests that areas with lower SES generally provide access to slightly more total, private and public UGS than high SES neighbourhoods. Yet, these observations are largely invalidated by statistical analysis. The unequal distribution of UGS in Amsterdam therefore seems to be the result of other factors, besides neighbourhood SES. These findings for Amsterdam do therefore not correspond to the dominant spatial justice paradigm that more SES is accompanied with more UGS, but can be linked to conclusions of scholars who state that other factors should be taken into consideration when determining spatial justice and that results may vary across space.