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Open space networks can guide urban renewal in a megacity

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As human populations move into cities they are increasingly isolated from the natural world, with associated negative impacts on health and well-being. However, as cities renew themselves through urban redevelopment and climate-adaptation, opportunities arise to improve people's access to urban green areas that can be informed by modeling the network of urban open spaces. Recent research identified the need for multi-criteria indices of access to urban green spaces. Including open spaces such as empty lots, ground- A nd air-spaces surrounding buildings, and spaces associated with roads and other linear features can improve planning for urban greenspaces by identifying areas of opportunity for additional greening. Further, the gradient of interconnections among open spaces can be used to prioritize urban greening locations to build green networks. We modelled all open-space connections across 605 km2 in Seoul, population 10.3 million, using Omniscape, a landscape connectivity model. We combined the resulting open-space connectivity map with distance-based indices for existing urban parks and street trees. Combining these criteria permits rank-prioritization of locations where new green spaces would most improve residents' access. We found 2910 of 3375 (86.2%) locations where urban green spaces already exist within 300 m for city residents. Of the remaining 465 locations, 276 are in areas with the lowest-open space connections. For urban street trees, 44.3% of the 2588 km of the city's major roads are already planted with street trees. Of the remainder, 210 km (8.1%) are located in the areas with the least connections to green spaces. Nine new urban parks would provide relief for the most highly-impacted areas, where the flow of open space is lowest and where no green spaces are available within 300 m. The integration of a spatial model typically used for conservation assessments with city planning provides useful additional context for building urban health.

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