Green and healthy Nordic cities

How to plan, design, and manage health-promoting urban green space


Publish date
This handbook is the culmination of the NORDGREEN project, which develops and implements smart planning and management solutions for well-designed, high-quality green spaces that promote health and well-being. Researchers and practitioners worked alongside one another in six Nordic cities: Aarhus (Denmark), Espoo and Ii (Finland), Stavanger (Norway), and Täby and Vilhelmina (Sweden). Together, the researchers and practitioners applied methods including GIS data analysis, statistical analysis, PPGIS surveys and analysis, policy document analysis, interviews, and evidence-based design models.The handbook uses an innovative framework based on the multi-disciplinary approach of the project, using epidemiological studies, environmental psychology, policy and management, and citizen participation. These fields of study and their respective methodologies are divided into the four so-called NORD components—NUMBERING, OBSERVING, REGULATING, and DESIGNING—which, accompanied by a BACKGROUND section reviewing the evidence linking green space and human health, form the bulk of the handbook.Some key take-away messages from these chapters include:There is a fairly broad consensus that access to, and use of, natural and green areas have a positive influence on people’s health and well-being.Both perceived and objective indicators for access to green space and for health are needed for making a more comprehensive evaluation for how people’s health is influenced by green space.Citizens’ experiential, local knowledge is a vital component of urban planning, and PPGIS can offer practitioners the opportunity to gather map-based experiential knowledge to provide insights for planning, designing, and managing green spaces.Alignment, both vertically across the political, tactical, and operational levels, as well as horizontally across departments, is critical for municipal organisations to foster health-promoting green spaces.Evidence-based design models can provide important categories and qualities for diagnosing the gaps in existing green spaces and designing green spaces with different scales and scopes that respond to the various health and well-being needs of different people.Based on the research and lessons learned from the six case study cities, the handbook provides practitioners with a TOOLBOX of adaptable methods, models, and guidelines for delivering health-promoting green spaces to consider in their own contexts. By reading this handbook, planners and policymakers can expect to gain (1) a background on the evidence linking green spaces and health, practical tools for planning, designing, and managing green spaces, (2) tips from researchers regarding the challenges of using various methods, models, and guidelines for delivering health-promoting green space, and (3) inspiration on some success stories emerging from the Nordic Region in this area of study. The handbook covers a wide range of health and urban green space topics. Landscape architects will find evidence-based design models for enhancing existing green space design processes. Planners will find methods and guidelines for identifying, collecting, and analysing both qualitative and quantitative green space and health data from statistical databases, national citizen surveys, and map-based participatory surveys. And all practitioners will find guidelines for achieving programmatic alignment in their work for delivering health-promoting green space.