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    Author(s): Kathleen Wolf
    Date: 2017
    Source: Parks & Recreation. 52(4): 28-29.
    Publication Series: Magazines or Trade Publications
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (262.0 KB)


    This magazine article is an informal review of a wide range of research, spanning multiple decades, concerning human health benefits derived from experiences of nearby nature in urbanized places. The actionable information is aimed at professional and manager audiences who may have an interest in urban design and planning, as well as urban forestry. Urban parks range in scale from large regional parks that are destinations for recreation, to local parks that contain natural areas and sports facilities, to small parks that serve a specific community or neighborhood, including pocket parks. Acquiring large parcels for new parks is difficult or expensive in many cities. Innovative strategies can be used in a sites-to-systems approach that optimizes the use of small parcels, green infrastructure, and green streets to provide nature-based human health benefits. A framework of mental health benefits is presented, including Improved Mood and Attitude, Stress Reduction, Better Mental Functioning, Improved Mindfulness and Creativity, and Building Social Capital. In addition, the article offers suggestions for integrating the research findings into evidence-based urban planning and design. The article content was derived from the Green Cities: Good Health web site, a cooperative project of the USDA Forest Service (Research and S&P deputy areas) and University of Washington (Seattle), and is a research synthesis, science delivery product intended for professional and manager audiences.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Wolf, Kathleen L. 2017. The health benefits of small parks and green spaces. Parks & Recreation. 52(4): 28-29.


    Health, urban design, planning.

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