Residents' perception and use of green space: Results from a mixed methods study in a deprived neighbourhood in Korea
Improving the quantity and quality of green space can play a significant and positive social role in deprived neighborhoods
This study examined factors associated with residents' perceptions and use of green space. It also sought to identify residents’ interests in the environmental characteristics of green space that would promote their use of such space. The ultimate aim was to inform planning for appropriate green space provisions in deprived urban neighborhoods.
The study was conducted in an old urban area of Jeonju City, Korea, where there is a serious lack of green space. This area was selected as the investigation cite because it reflects the characteristics of urban deprived areas in Korea. While public green space is generally lacking in these areas, some of the residents have access to greenery in school yards, neglected vacant lots, and some poorly-tended vegetable gardens.
One thousand residents completed a survey designed to measure their perceptions and use of their local green space and to collect individual sociodemographic and residential information. Thirty additional residents participated in semi-structured interviews, during which they were asked to share information about their (1) experience of using local green space and barriers to its use, (2) expected beneﬁts gained through green space, and (3) essential factors required for active use and improvement of green space. The interviewees represented a diverse population and included six elementary school children.
Participants generally had a negative perception about their local green space, in terms of both perceived proximity and quality. Most of the participants (65.5%) reported having no green space within a walkable distance from their residence. The poorest residents of the deprived neighborhood, however, perceived better access to local green space than those not in the poorest category. This perceived better access most likely reﬂects their high desire to use green space, as they actually had no more or better green space than others. Residents in the low-income group, those who evaluated their housing quality as fair, and those who had little difficulty in their relationships with neighbors used the local green space more than others.
Overall results indicated that residents evaluated green space as a more important environment for enhancing their quality of life than their own residence or commercial facilities. While green space was evaluated as fundamentally important regardless of personal characteristics, it was especially important among people living in multiplex housing and for people in “vulnerable” groups (low-income people, elderly, and women). Children expressed a very high demand for green space for meeting and playing with friends.
This research is consistent with other studies indicating that green space diﬀers greatly in deprived neighborhoods in quality and quantity compared with green space in other areas. This disparity can have a large inﬂuence on the behavior, health, and well-being of residents. The researchers identified five characteristics of green space required to promote the active use of green space and the health of residents: (1) Green space should be accessed easily, (2) Green space should be safe and well-maintained, (3) Green space should facilitate physical exercise, (4) Green space should promote social interaction, and (5) Green space should have beautiful greenery.