ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202209.0209.v1
Subject: Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences Keywords: Urban green areas; health; urban health; emotional health; physical health; well-being; nature; environmental medicine; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2 pandemic; Vienna; Austria, environmental perception; pandemic; human nature relationship; recreation; age
Online: 14 September 2022 (12:08:02 CEST)
The COVID-19 pandemic drew public attention back to the living conditions related to housing, access to green areas in close neighbourhood and nearby recreation. Several studies confirm that visiting green spaces improved the health and wellbeing in times of crisis. This representative study for the metropolitan area of Vienna, Austria’s capital, confirms the high relevance of contact with nature, particularly for citizens to cope with the negative consequences and perceived stress, anxiety, nervousness and many other negative symptoms experienced during the health crisis. It highlights the importance of nearby smaller but also medium to large scale green areas in cities for health and wellbeing of the population. Moreover, it specifically adds novel insights on age effects in use and perception of urban green spaces during COVID-19 pandemic. The online panel survey (n=1012) was conducted in summer 2021. In order to obtain a representative sample reflective of the population’s characteristics, a (stratified) random sample was selected by applying the quota method. The objective was to obtain a sample which represented gender, age and regional distribution of the population of the City of Vienna as well as the immediately surrounding local communities. Interestingly, particularly young people spent more time outside in green areas during the pandemic, discovered novel spaces for the first time and stated a high relevance of contact with nature for their wellbeing. Elderly people above sixty five, on the contrary, stayed more frequently at home. Significant differences are visible between the age groups also with regard to negative symptoms experienced in case of restricted access to green areas due to strict pandemic measures such as lockdowns and quarantine. All age groups, however, similarly acknowledged the importance of green areas for their physical, mental and emotional health in general during the pandemic.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202201.0153.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Geography Keywords: pandemic; green areas; protected areas; urban planning; visitor management; protected area management
Online: 11 January 2022 (18:23:29 CET)
Public green and open spaces fulfil various social, ecological, economic, and aesthetic roles, which complement each another, but can also compete with one another. COVID-19 pandemic catalysed multiple societal changes, including citizens’ perception, needs and expectations posed towards urban green spaces. This article discusses the extent to which the temporally and geographically changed patterns of experiencing these natural spaces also influenced users’ perception and behaviour as well as their appreciation of the conservation areas. The study is based upon two surveys carried out in the greater metropolitan region of Vienna, the capital city of Austria. A quantitative survey (representative online panel) among Viennese population (n=1012), as well as qualitive interviews with experts responsible for conservation areas, administrators of federal parks, along with NGOs representatives were carried out in spring and summer 2021. Our study shows the changed use of urban and suburban large green spaces and conservation areas: first, from the perspective of those responsible for the areas as well as the visitors. Both perspectives supplement one another. They highlight also changed perception of urban citizens towards green spaces during COVID-19 pandemic. An increased importance of time spent in nature (68%) and possibility to visit large green areas (67%) was reported by Viennese citizens. Also, higher recognition of green spaces located close to home was observed among 69% of the respondents. Thus, the presented study contributes to the ongoing international discussion on the transition of societal needs and its effects on urban green spaces induced by the pandemic. Presented results deliver solid arguments highlighting the need of urgent transformation towards a more sustainable, resilient and healthy urban space.