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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Urban greenspace for social integration: Which types of greenspace do new-Swedes prefer and why?

Dawson, Lucas; Elbakidze, Marine; Yamelynets, Taras; van Ermel, L. E. Kraft; Johansson, Karl-Erik; Schaffer, Christina


Urban greenspace (UGS) is a key public resource offering a broad range of nature -based solutions and is increasingly looked to as a potential arena to promote social integration in Europe 's increasingly multicultural urban and peri-urban areas. However, relatively little research has explored the preferences and perceptions of immigrants in relation to UGS, especially in European contexts. Without such knowledge, planners risk entrenching planning structures that inadvertently result in segregation and environmental injustice. Using survey and participatory mapping methods with 261 immigrants in eight sampled settlements across Sweden, this study explores which types of UGS foreign -born immigrants in Sweden (i.e., new -Swedes) prefer and why. We found that new -Swedes are frequent users of a wide spectrum of UGS types, with the most preferred types including forests, large parks and lakes. The majority of respondents were satisfied with the quality (73%), availability (68%) and accessibility (76%) of UGS in their hometowns. Our regression analysis identified 51 key factors that had a meaningful effect on preferences for different types of UGS. Key factors were distributed relatively evenly across blocks of predictor variables concerning characteristics of UGS, socio-demographic factors, activity preferences, and perceptions. Our results indicate that new -Swedes ' UGS preferences are broadly comparable with those of the general population in Sweden. We found little evidence to suggest that ethnocultural factors played a major role in the preferences of our respondents. Furthermore, our results suggest that nature -connectedness might be an important determinant of new -Swedes ' UGS preferences. Based on these findings, we highlight several opportunities to further develop UGS strategies to support different dimensions of social integration, e.g., using popular UGS as interactive spaces for cultural learning, as a platform for intercultural contacts and for maintaining cultural traditions, and to contribute towards a greater sense of social membership in their new country. A crucial implication of our study is that the use of UGS to support social integration may further contribute to the increasing complexity of the UGS planning and management challenge. This implies the need for a systems perspective in UGS research, policy -making, planning and management to consider UGS as part of an integrated urban social -ecological system and to coordinate measures across sectors.


Urban planning; Green infrastructure; Social integration of immigrants; Urbanisation; SDG 11; New Urban Agenda

Published in

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
2024, Volume: 95, article number: 128310