Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1139–1163 | Cite as

Defining and measuring the social-ecological quality of urban greenspace: a semi-systematic review

  • Ashlea J. HunterEmail author
  • Gary W. Luck


Various disciplines have examined the role of urban greenspace in delivering a wide array of social-ecological values to urban residents. This semi-systematic review of 50 studies assesses how links between the social and ecological qualities of urban greenspace have been measured to establish social-ecological values, and what qualities researchers have used to define greenspace type. Our review identified that differences in the definition and measurement of greenspace and its ecological and social qualities can have a profound impact on interpretations of greenspace value. We argue that it is critical to acknowledge the heterogeneity among different greenspace types, and to use suitable metrics of greenspace ecological and social quality accordingly. We present a heterarchical typology of greenspace qualities (rather than a hierarchical typology of urban greenspaces) that can be used to define greenspace type and identify research clusters, gaps and emerging lines of inquiry into the social-ecological values of greenspace.


Typology Urban ecology Greenspace values Environmental psychology Park Garden 



This research was funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award and a Charles Sturt University, Institute for Land, Water and Society Scholarship to Ashlea Hunter. The contribution of Gary Luck was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT0990436). Thanks to Jonathon Howard and two referees for constructive comments on the review.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare there are no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11252_2015_456_MOESM1_ESM.docx (86 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 85 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental SciencesCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Land, Water and SocietyCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia

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