While nature is widely acknowledged to contribute to people’s well-being, nature based well-being indicators at city-level appear to be underprovided. This study aims at filling this gap by introducing a novel indicator based on the proximity of city-residents to nature that is of high-amenity. High-amenity nature is operationalized by combining unique systematic data on people’s perceptions of what are the locations of attractive natural areas with data on natural land cover. The proposed indicator departs from the usual assumption of equal well-being from any nature, as it approximates the ‘actual’ subjective quality of nature near people’s homes in a spatially explicit way. Such indicator is used to rank 148 ‘cities’ in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. International comparability of the indicator is enhanced by the use of a definition of cities as functional urban areas (FUAs), which are consistently identified across countries. Results demonstrate that the average ‘nearness’ of FUA populations to high amenity nature varies widely across the observed FUAs. A key finding, that complements insights from existing city-level indicators, is that while populations of FUAs with higher population densities may live relatively far from nature in general, they also live, on average, closer to high-amenity nature than inhabitants of lower density FUAs. Our results may stimulate policy-debates on how to combine urban agglomeration with access to natural amenities in order to account for people’s wellbeing.
Social Indicators Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 3, 2016
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