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“Urban greening” encompasses a wide variety of policy options that can affect the urban environment. Urban greening involves the relationship between the urban natural environment (including the air, water, soil, wildlife and vegetation) and the urban environment (including urban buildings, transportation systems, energy systems, and other components necessary to support modern urban living). Urban greening policy initiatives can incorporate topics such as:
- Brownfield redevelopment
- Green building efforts
- Green and living streets initiatives
- Solid waste management
- Urban agriculture
- Urban energy sources and renewable energy initiatives
- Urban greenways and trail systems
- Urban open space and park systems
- Urban forestry
- Watershed and urban water management
- Wildlife habitat and management
Urban greening initiatives have the potential to promote healthier urban environments, leading to increased physical activity and access to healthy food. In addition, these efforts have public health benefits beyond obesity prevention. Urban greening initiatives have also been shown to have social benefits, such as enhancing social networks and reducing crime, as residents spend more time outdoors and interacting with their neighbors.
As public health advocates consider various urban greening initiatives, they should consider these policy options in the context of the larger physical network of green space and nature in urban settings, otherwise known as the “green infrastructure”. By acknowledging the larger green infrastructure, specific urban greening initiatives can build on the existing momentum of other urban greening efforts.