Ventspils and Malmö – cities whose residents enjoy parks and green areas the most

Residents of Ventspils and Malmö, followed by Munich, Kassel, Leipzig (Germany), Bialystok (Poland), Cardiff (Wales), Vienna, Groningen and Glasgow, are the most satisfied with the amount of green areas and parks in their city.

Although cities occupy only three percent of the earth’s surface, they are home to over 50 percent of the world’s population. With increasing urbanization, the built areas have higher impact on the environment, while the little link between man and nature is represented by green areas that play a key role in preserving natural values the urban areas.

In the 21st century, aspects such as the amount of public green area per capita, public parks and recreational areas are mentioned as important factors of a livable city, comfort and attraction for its inhabitants, therefore the opinion of citizens is especially important in communication regarding the green urban areas.

According to the latest available Eurostat data (2015), the residents of Ventspils, a port at the confluence of the Venta River in the Baltic Sea in northwest Latvia, are the most satisfied with the condition and amount of green area in their city – 68 percent of respondents expressed great satisfaction with the condition and spaciousness of local greenery.

Aldis Ābele, executive director at Ventspils City Council stated for Mayors of Europe: “Each year Ventspils city invests about 1.2M euros in the upkeep of its green area consisting of a total of 2.5M square meters of parks, squares, flower beds, lawns and street side trees. Most of these funds are spent on seasonal maintenance of green areas, purchasing flower/tree/shrubs plants, mowing lawns, trimming trees and other essential maintenance works.

Regular maintenance, renovation and improvement of our green areas is an integral part of our city planning. We are currently implementing a continuous strategy of replacing lower value/older plants and trees with ones that are more fitting for our climate and the scale of the particular territory. Besides the aesthetics we find that having trees at various stages of their life cycle contributes greatly to sustainability of the ecosystem”.

Furthermore, the community involvement in the efforts to make Ventspils an excellent living environment is very important to the city.

Director Ābele explained for Mayors of Europe: “Substantial part of our residential sector is comprised of Soviet era apartment blocks which were neither planned nor executed with a particutar attention to resident’s comfort or environmental issues. To counter this historic negligence, every year the municipality organises two tree-planting events in the intemal yards of those residential blocks (one event on each bank of River Venta) with extensive local community participation. Not only this results in nicer looking residential areas but also gives local residents a sense of ownership of the responsibility for green areas in their immediate vicinity.”

Immediately behind Ventspils, with 66 percent of very satisfied respondents, are the citizens of Swedish Malmö, ahead of two German cities: Munich with 60% and Kassel with 59 percent of the population. Polish Bialystok has 58 percent of satisfied citizens, Cardiff (Wales, United Kingdom) -57, Leipzig (Germany) and Vienna (Austria) – 56, and the Top 10 concludes Groningen (Netherlands) and Glasgow (Scotland, United Kingdom) – with 55 percent of very pleased citizens with the city’s green areas, parks and gardens.