Urban Green Spaces—An Underestimated Resource in Third-Tier Towns in Poland
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Urban green spaces are frequently presented as being important for urban quality of life and urban development in general, but more detailed interpretations and discussions are typically confined to large urban centers, the so-called first- and second-tier cities. Not enough attention has been paid to smaller urban units, the third-tier towns. The main goal of this article is to investigate the share and types of urban green spaces in five selected towns in Poland. We compare different sources of data based on satellite imagery and land-use maps with those used in public statistics, to check whether town authorities are managing all potential green spaces or only a selected part of them. We find that the predominantly used data, based on what is classified as “urban green space” for the purposes of public statistics, obscure the complexity of urban green spaces and focus on the narrowly understood formally managed public green spaces (which occupy 3.5–5.7% of town areas). Meanwhile, based on other sources, such as the national land-use map (BDOT10k), Urban Atlas, and satellite imagery (Landsat 8), what is considered to be green space turns out to cover 50–80% of the town area. The latter large numbers are associated with the predominance of arable land, grasslands, and forests, overlooked in any green space management practices based on data and definitions adopted for the purposes of public statistics. The situation found in our five case study towns resembles that identified in larger cities in Poland, and it exhibits the inadequacy of public statistics definitions and the related management practices, hindering the management of urban green spaces as an interconnected system of urban green infrastructures.
- Artykuły naukowe 
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