The forest became the salvation for many Stockholmers during the pandemic

2021-09-29 

“For people who felt afraid to visit their usual city park because of the risk of infection, the forest became an oasis in which to recover and get rid of stress,” says Karl Samuelsson, environmental researcher at University of Gävle.

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In a new survey with 700 participants, researchers at University of Gävle, in collaboration with the School of Architecture at KTH, can show how important natural environments have been for Stockholmers during the pandemic.

Karl Samuelsson

Karl Samuelsson

“The forest seems to be a restorative and relaxing place in a very special way. Our previous research demonstrated this fact, and the pattern is even stronger during the pandemic,” Karl Samuelsson says.

The usual park became a dangerous place

The researchers found that, during the pandemic, many people avoided the park where they usually met friends and family.

Possibly, the didn’t dare to visit the usual park any longer, because they felt it was too crowded with high risks of being infected. Visiting the usual park less often was seen as something negative, probably because many felt a sense of loss at no longer being able to go there.

According to Karl, the results show how important it is to make room for large areas of green spaces in urban planning, as they can act as buffer zones during times of crisis. Importantly, these large green spaces need to be accessible to everyone in the city via good walking or cycling routes.

“Our results clearly demonstrate how important this type of planning is for the resilience of cities in future crises. Being close to a small park is not enough,” Karl Samuelsson says.

The map shows which environments that have qualities that Stockholmers think were best suited for coping with stress and that they valued most during the pandemic. Blue areas are those with the best access to environments that are important for well-being, while red areas have the poorest access to such environments.

The map shows which environments that have qualities that Stockholmers think were best suited for coping with stress and that they valued most during the pandemic. Blue areas are those with the best access to environments that are important for well-being, while red areas have the poorest access to such environments.

Clearly, the inner city of Stockholm has very poor access to such restorative environments, but there are also areas outside the inner city with poor access to these environments that were important for well-being.

However, there are also examples of suburban areas, such as Bagarmossen, which are very densely populated but still have very good access to large green areas.

- Here, the fact that it very densely populated does not really matter much because there is easy access to large green areas," Karl Samuelsson says.

Contact

Karl Samuelsson, environmental researcher at University of Gävle
Phone: 073-759 08 50
E-mail: karl.samuelsson@hig.se

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo: Fredrik Telleus / Maskot / TT
Photo Karl Samuelsson: Anna Sällberg

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Veronica Liljeroth Updated: 2021-09-29
Högskolan i Gävle
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