ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0620.v2
Subject: Social Sciences, Accounting Keywords: Urban green space; COVID-19; urban parks; open space; New York City; urban infrastructure; equity
Online: 30 September 2020 (10:00:40 CEST)
Urban green spaces provide a range of environmental and health benefits, which may become even more critical during times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, with a radical shift in mobility, additional concerns over safety, and access temporarily restricted during the implementation of social distancing policies, the experience and use of urban green spaces may be reduced. This is particularly concerning for densely populated cities like New York, considered the first U.S. epicenter or vanguard of the outbreak. To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the perception and use of urban green spaces, we conducted a social survey during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City (May 13 - June 15, 2020). The results of the survey show respondents continued to use urban green spaces during the pandemic and consider them to be more important for mental and physical health than before the pandemic began. However, the study revealed a pattern of concerns residents have about green space accessibility and safety, and found key differences between the concerns and needs of different populations, suggesting a crucial role for inclusive decision-making, support for additional management strategies, and urban ecosystem governance that reflect the differential values, needs and concerns of communities across the City. As urban centers face looming budget cuts and reduced capacity, this study provides some empirical evidence to illustrate the value of urban green spaces as critical urban infrastructure, and may have implications for funding, policy, and management, of urban green spaces in NYC, with potential applications to other cities, particularly during times of crisis.