Equitable distribution of open space: Using spatial analysis to evaluate urban parks in Curitiba, Brazil

Macedo, J. & Haddad, M.A.

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Macedo, J., & Haddad, M. A. (2016). Equitable distribution of open space: Using spatial analysis to evaluate urban parks in Curitiba, Brazil. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 43(6), 1096–1117. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265813515603369

Green Space , Spatial Analysis , Urban Dynamics

Urban parks are community assets, providing people places to play and rest. Access to parks in urban environments promotes social equity and improves quality of life for surrounding neighborhoods. In this context, social equity is related to accessibility, i.e. the possibility of walking or biking from home to a public park, giving people who do not have access to a variety of entertainment an option that is a public good. This paper examines the spatial distribution of urban parks in the city of Curitiba, Brazil, and how it relates to the socio-economic conditions of surrounding neighborhoods. Curitiba is known for its urban parks; however, no systematic study has been conducted to verify which neighborhoods enjoy park access within walking distance and what the socio-economic differences are between the better and worse served neighborhoods. In addition, we investigate if access to green open space has improved between the last two decennial census, a period marked by unprecedented socio-economic affluence in Brazil. Research questions, to be addressed using spatial analysis, focus on equitable distribution, and spatial evolution of parks and social equity. Variables include measurable walking distances from census tracts to parks, income data from the 2000 and 2010 Brazilian decennial censuses, and qualitative data of urban parks in Curitiba. Findings offer recommendations for future implementation of additional parks in Curitiba so that all areas of the city have adequate green open space and all citizens have equal access to recreation and leisure opportunities.

Main finding
Using two different methods, the authors were able to find that the parks developed from 2000-2010 promoted spatial equity and the distribution of parks developed in a way that benefited low-income groups. However, the authors could not state that the spatial distribution of the parks was truly equitable. Additionally, it is not just the number of parks or amount of park space that is important for low-income people, with limited access to other forms of leisure, but the amount of facilities and amenities in those parks. The authors found fewer amenities and thus a lower quality in the parks for low and middle-income people. Lastly, in addition to proper maintenance and management, they found parks in working-class neighborhoods to need some security measures due to higher incidence of crime in these areas.

Description of method used in the article
The authors created a Facilities & Amenities Index framed around population density, access to transport and crime. Hypothesis: spatial equity can be measured by equating the distribution of parks to the distribution of income groups. Method 1: Park need (sqm/person) and park access (park area in census tract and within 1 km of tract border). Method 2: census tracts with centroid within 1 km radius of park to create park's service area then calculate sqm/person. Uses GIS for spatial analysis.

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3D / Digital / Datasets Spatial Methods
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