When Green Spaces Displace Residents, Our Cities’ Health Suffers

Op-ed: Cities are working to improve residents’ well-being with more urban green spaces. But they must be on the watch for green gentrification and its negative health consequences.


It’s an undeniable fact: Green spaces are crucial to our health and wellbeing.

Again and again, researchers have found that access to urban green spaces – from parks to gardens to greenways – positively impacts multiple measures of health, such as community satisfaction, social cohesion and access to healthy foods. Having a stable, quality place to call home is associated with various positive life outcomes, from lower mortality rates to lower rates of drug use.

However, in a process known as ecological, green or environmental gentrification, green amenities can contribute to gentrification and, over time, the displacement of low-income residents. But, perhaps counterintuitively, green gentrification can also exacerbate inequities in health, finances, quality of life and — ironically — access to green spaces.

Cities can experience green gentrification in different ways throughout their development. Even as increasing urban green spaces can help improve well-being, by displacing and pricing out residents, doing so in a way that leads to gentrification can cause serious public health concerns. For example, scholars describe how green gentrification and possible displacement can lead to psychosocial and physical health consequences. A scoping review on green gentrification and health examines numerous studies wherein residents experience a lower sense of community, diminished sense of belonging and less green space usage among long-term residents. Read full article here.