The importance of ecological quality of public green and blue spaces for subjective well-being

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

October 15, 2022


There is now considerable evidence that the natural environment provides health and well-being benefits in urban environments. However, little is understood about the role of ecological quality in maximising well-being gains. We examine the relationship between the accessibility of public natural spaces of high ecological quality and two measures of subjective well-being for adults, using the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), a large, longitudinal panel dataset. We then compare this relationship with that found with all Public Open Spaces, regardless of their ecological quality. We use the designation of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) as an objective indication of high-quality green- or bluespace, and life satisfaction and mental distress as measures of well-being. We use the Areas of Deficiency dataset from Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC (GiGL) to identify residential areas with more than a 1 km walk from a SINC, based on actual walking routes from known access points. Postcode-level analysis using regression modelling reveals that living beyond a 1 km walk of a SINC decreases an individual’s life satisfaction by 0.117 points on a scale of 1 to 7. No relationship is found for mental distress. We also do not find any significant relationship between either well-being measure and all Public Open Spaces. These findings suggest that the ecological quality of publicly accessible open spaces is important for the well-being of residents in Greater London and highlights the need for improving the provision of high-quality green- and bluespaces in urban areas.

Published in

Landscape and Urban Planning


Volume: 226:104510






Open Access

Under a Creative Commons license



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