Source:WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark (2016)
This report summarizes the available evidence of beneficial effects of urban green spaces, such as improved mental health, reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes, and improved pregnancy outcomes. Mechanisms leading to these health benefits include psychological relaxation and stress alleviation, increased physical activity, reduced exposure to air pollutants, noise and excess heat. Characteristics of urban green spaces that are associated with specific mechanisms leading to health benefits, and measures or indicators of green space availability, accessibility and use that have been used in previous surveys are discussed from the perspective of their public health relevance and applicability for monitoring progress towards goals set in international commitments, such as the Parma Declaration in the WHO European Region and the global Sustainable Development Goals. The report also presents a suggested indicator of accessibility of green spaces with examples of its application in three European cities and a detailed methodological tool kit for GIS analysis of land use and population data.