Recreational ecosystem services in European cities: Sociocultural and geographical contexts matter for park use

Journal article

Publication Details

Author list: Kowarik I., Fischer L.K., Honold J., Botzat A., Brinkmeyer D., Cvejić R., Delshammar T., Elands B., Haase D., Kabisch N., Karle S.J., Lafortezza R., Nastran M., Nielsen A.B., van der Jagt A.P., Vierikko K.

Journal: Ecosystem Services

Publication year: 2018

Volume number: 31

Pages: 455-467

Publisher: Elsevier

ISSN: 2212-0416

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2018.01.015


Languages: English-Great Britain


The role of urban parks in delivering cultural ecosystem services related to outdoor recreation is widely acknowledged. Yet, the question remains as to whether the recreational opportunities of parks meet the demands of increasingly multicultural societies and whether recreational patterns vary at spatial scales. In a pan-European survey, we assessed how people use urban parks (in five cities, N = 3814) and how recreational patterns relate to respondents’ sociocultural and geographical contexts (using 19 explanatory variables). Our results show that across Europe (i) respondents share a general pattern in their recreational activities with a prevalence for the physical uses of parks, especially taking a walk; (ii) the geographic context matters, demonstrating a high variety of uses across the cities; and that (iii) the sociocultural context is also important; e.g., the occupation and biodiversity valuations of respondents are significantly associated with the uses performed. The sociocultural context matters particularly for physical park uses and is associated to a lesser extent with nature-related uses. Given that our results attest to a high variety of park uses between sociocultural groups and the geographical context, we conclude that it is important to consider the specific backgrounds of people to enhance recreational ecosystem services in greenspace development.