Environmental Management

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 750–759 | Cite as

Evaluating the Environmental Performance of Urban Parks in Mediterranean Cities: An Example from the Barcelona Metropolitan Region

  • Marc Parés-FranziEmail author
  • David Saurí-Pujol
  • Elena Domene


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.


Urban parks Environmental practices Water Mediterranean cities Barcelona 



Funds for this research were obtained from the FIRMA project (5th Framework Programme of the European Union). We would like to thank Susan Hanson, Paul Robbins, and Rob Krueger for their helpful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. Likewise, the criticisms, comments, and suggestions of three reviewers have improved greatly the manuscript as well.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Parés-Franzi
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Saurí-Pujol
    • 1
  • Elena Domene
    • 2
  1. 1.Departament de Geografia, Facultat de LletresUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  2. 2.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, Facultat de CiènciesUniversitat Autònom de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

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