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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Understanding people’s interactions with urban greenspace: Case studies in Eastern Europe

Elbakidze, Marine; Dawson, Lucas; van Ermel, LE Kraft; Mikusinski, Grzegorz; Hedblom, Marcus; Korohoda, Nataliia; Kruhlov, Ivan; Smaliychuk, Anatoliy; Kurdadze, Tamari; Ugrekhelidze, Ketevan; Ongena, Yfke P.; Sayadyan, Hovik; Galstyan, Merujan; Grodzinska, Olha


This study explored and compared people’s interactions with urban greenspace (UGS) using case studies in three Eastern European countries – Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine. These countries have experienced radical changes in governance systems and socio-economic structures, characteristic of a transition from planned to market economies. Recently, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine have been arenas for armed conflicts, which have dramatically heightened instability throughout the region. Urban planners in Eastern Europe therefore urgently need context-relevant knowledge to facilitate the critical work of (re-)building more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities. An unrestricted, self-selected online survey was used to collect data in 2021–2022. A total of 3573 respondents completed the survey (N = 1142 in Armenia, N = 1069 in Georgia and N = 1362 in Ukraine). We identified 12 key explanatory factors linked to the frequency of people’s interactions with UGS using multiple ordinal logistic regressions. The core findings are: (i) most factors are country-specific; (ii) age of respondents had a large effect on the frequency of UGS use in Armenia and Georgia, where older people were mostly infrequent users of UGS; (iii) those who lived further from UGS or could not access it on foot were less likely to use it often; and (iv) the only common key factor across three countries was that people who ‘do not want’ to use UGS are infrequent users. The study shows that only 10–18% of respondents were satisfied with the UGS availability and quality. Among many constraints related to UGS use, litter in UGS and lack of time were the most mentioned. Large parks were the most preferred types of UGS. Our findings confirm the need for urban planners in Eastern Europe to consider and integrate diverse factors influencing people’s willingness to interact with urban nature. A priority is to understand how to bring infrequent users to UGS, particularly older people in various cultural settings in Eastern European countries.


Cultural context; Post-trauma recovery; Urban planning

Published in

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
2023, Volume: 89, article number: 128117