Parks and gardens can make all the difference in a city — breaking up the concrete, and giving people a place to stroll, play or picnic. And it turns out that, when compared to the rest of the world, Sydney’s got a surprising amount of them.
In a recent ranking of the cities with the most public green space per capita, Sydney ranked fourth. The research, conducted by Compare the Market, looked at 20 cities around the world with the largest percentage of public green space and then found the green space per capita for each.
Sydney was found to have 155.4m2 of public green space available per person, while Chengdu, China (653.6m2) and Oslo, Norway (532.2m2) led the way in green space available per capita. Nanjing, China took third place with over double the amount of green space (373.7m2 per person) than Sydney. Helsinki, Finland came in 5th with 135.5m2 of space per person.
Research has shown that cities with abundant green spaces have been proven to not only be a shining beacon for climate action, but also to have a strong positive impact on people’s overall wellbeing.
Exposure to nature or green space has numerous positive physical and mental health benefits, including lower rates of heart disease, stroke, depression and stress, according to author and psychology consultant Dr Jo Lukins.
“In a study ranging from 1985 to 2013, Danish researchers found that childhood exposure to green spaces like parks, forests and rural lands reduces the risk of developing an array of psychiatric disorders during adolescence and adulthood,” reads the Compare the Market report.
“The scientists found that citizens who grew up with the least green space nearby had as much as a 55% increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in later years.”
Studies have also shown that free, green spaces have a correlation between areas with lower crime rates. Although this research is still in its infancy, scientists are studying the patterns that green spaces have on the public and potential criminals. It is suggested that the parks allow for the congregation, celebration, and a more ‘open surveillance’ that deters crime.
Exposure to sunlight increases the body’s production of Vitamin D and serotonin which is a natural mood booster. Listening to the sounds of birds chirping, and trees rustling is said to foster focus and enhance memory performance.
Here’s the full ranking of green cities.