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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Urban forests as compensation measures for infrastructure development

Skärbäck, Erik


Sustainable development requires, among other things, that development projects not result in the degradation of natural resources for outdoor recreation. There has been a rapid increase in knowledge regarding the importance of the external environment to our health and well-being. Stress is reduced significantly when people are exposed to health-promoting nature and landscape values. Many people are actively choosing to reduce their stress. Doctors today prescribe outdoor walks in peaceful environments for the same purpose. A high level of traffic noise increases stress. This paper discusses the application of silent values in an infrastructure development project, the extension of Sturup Airport, east of Malmö and Copenhagen. Through estimating the change in noise by the development, it is possible to integrate mitigating and compensating measures in the planning process discussions. Such measures can be negotiated as conditions for authorization of the project. The airport is situated in an area rich in nature values for recreation. The airport expansion will mean both new noise impacting “silent” areas and increasing noise levels in already noise-affected areas. In this study, we have taken a positive stand on the silent areas, mostly agriculture land, where compensation measures could be taken, thus balancing the loss of silent nature values for recreation. Silent areas that will not be affected are suitable and feassible for compensation measures, thus can be called compensation areas. In this way the development of new recreational areas, preferably designed as urban forests, are critical preconditions for the negotiations for the airport extension. The conclusion is that urban forest investments for health and well-being can be an important part of strategic decisions in spatial planning. As preconditions for a permit, the development and financing of new urban forests and green areas can be part of the total development plan. This is an issue of global interest, as many countries are in a process of rapid urbanization, and urban greening and urban forestry have an important role to play in the process of promoting quality of life and improving environmental quality


Balancing; Health; Landscape Planning; Noise; Recreation; Well-being

Published in

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
2007, Volume: 1, number: 6, pages: 279-285
Publisher: Elsevier