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Environ Manage. 2006 Nov;38(5):750-9. Epub 2006 Sep 30.

Evaluating the environmental performance of urban parks in Mediterranean cities: an example from the Barcelona metropolitan region.

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Departament de Geografia, Facultat de Lletres, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.


In a context of increasing urban sprawl and water scarcity common to other Mediterranean cities, this article focuses on the urban parks in the Region of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) to examine how these parks are distributed in this region and to assess whether their design and management follow criteria adapted to Mediterranean environmental conditions, especially in what concerns water use. In order to evaluate the environmental performance of these parks, we selected four factors possibly influencing the adoption of park management practices at the local scale: urban density, population size of the municipality, municipal income per capita, and political orientation of the city council. After determining the location and area of urban parks in the region, we correlated these four explanatory factors with several management tasks extracted from two different samples of parks (one of 315 parks and another of 125 parks) and a survey of 86 city councils. Results show that, in general, urban parks were more frequent in large, dense, and left/green municipalities but that environmentally sound practices were more common in small and low-density municipalities. We conclude that changes in certain practices (especially the substitution of high water demanding species) could improve significantly the environmental performance of public spaces in large urban areas with Mediterranean climates. Our observations may be pertinent for other cities interested in the provision of environmental public goods such as parks that necessitate water for irrigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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