Urban greening, the improvement or increase of green spaces in cities, has purported environmental, individual, social and cultural benefits. The extent and qualities of urban green spaces, and our opportunities to engage with them, reflect and shape human responses to those spaces. Planning scholars recognise the traditional role and obligation of planning to help reduce social problems and see the potential for the public to be leaders in defining responses. However, use of technical, scientific and economic approaches by urban land managers can limit recognition of diverse connections to urban green and advance narrow conceptions of nature. We sample people’s responses to different forms of urban green and greening in three case studies from Melbourne, Australia. We show that modern connections and expressions are personal, social and dynamic. Human experiences are embedded in nature and connections develop from interactions with and about nature, in formal and informal spaces. Diverse connections prompt responses to nature, and actions affecting nature itself. Accordingly, we propose ways to develop more receptive, responsive, inclusive and connected forms of urban greening. These include recognising diverse connections and expressions, encouraging dynamic relationships with nature, and providing varied ways of engaging with urban green spaces that foster stewardship.
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Abstract included in PLA’s Research Connections article in Parks and Leisure Australia Vol 23.2 Winter 2020