Development of indicators for the assessment of the provision of settlements with green spaces for outdoor physical activity

About the project

Slovenia, like many developed countries around the world, is facing the problem of insufficient physical activity of the population. Green spaces (GS) are one of the important factors in promoting physical activity for public health. Therefore, it is necessary to provide every inhabitant of Slovenia with equal opportunities for outdoor exercise to maintain and improve health. Adequate provision of settlements with publicly accessible and usable GS, which enable and encourage physical activity, should be one of the key emphases of planning a quality living environment. However, the spatial circumstances of Slovenian municipalities are very different and do not provide equal opportunities to all the people. The provision of settlements with appropriate GSs is very divergent and unequal, which was especially evident during the time of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In practice it is evident that municipalities give different attention to the quality of green space planning and open space in general and have different attitudes and approaches to this. They also do not have useful and comparable tools for assessing and monitoring their situation in the field. They also usually lack suitable inventories in the field of public, publicly accessible GSs.

However, public GS are not only those that are owned by the municipality or defined by the GS land use, but are all areas of the GS character, which are important for the daily physical activity of the population. These are often areas for other land uses and in private ownership. With appropriate measures and agreements, it is possible to ensure non-conflict co-use for the needs of physical activity of residents and visitors to the area. In order to define suitable starting points for planning and decision making to improve the situation, the assessment of GS provision must be carried out at the local level, well connected with the place of residence (city or town) and in line with all relevant aspects of GS (e.g., multifunctionality, capacity, quality, public accessibility). In this regard, it also makes sense for municipalities to set local standards or provision goals for their settlements and the development of green areas in addition to national guidelines, which are consistent with their spatial and socio-economic and development context.

Therefore, the proposed project aims to define the indicator(s) of provision of settlements with GS for physical activity or for active lifestyle. The project will review the literature and relevant legislative documents, provide the definition of provision, and develop a set of relevant indicators. The existing possibilities of data collection for the determination of indicators of GS provision will be analysed, the possibilities of supplementing and combining data will be defined, and a protocol for the management of GS provision data will be prepared. All indicators and supporting contents will be tested in two pilots of urban and rural nature. That will increase the practical usefulness of project results and improved final definition of the indicator(s) for the GS provision. This will be the basis for development of guidelines and recommendations for the use of indicators in the planning and management of GS at the municipal level.

In accordance with the discussed topic and defined goals, the project will significantly contribute to the development of science in the field of spatial disciplines, as well as in the field of public health, environment and society. In addition, the project will provide results that can also serve to improve the understanding of the health status of the population and the opportunities and needs for cross-sectoral cooperation and networking in providing a quality, public health-friendly environment. In this way, the project results can serve as a support for cooperation between spatial planners and public health experts and in the joint formulation and implementation of public health policies.

Project financing bodies

Slovenian research agency – ARRS
Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning – MOP
Ministry of Health – MZ

Project information

ARRS no. of the project – V5-2232

Project duration: October 2022 – October 2024

Project team

Project is run by the researchers from the Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia

dr. Vita Žlender, project lead | SICRIS | UIRS website
mag. Ina Šuklje Erjavec | SICRIS | UIRS website
Jana Kozamernik | SICRIS | UIRS website
Simon Koblar | SICRIS | UIRS website

Implementation schedule

The entire project will last 24 months. The duration of each work package is given in the Project Timeline. The implementation of work packages 2-4 overlaps with each other, as this ensures a feedback loop on the relevance/applicability of the results obtained in the previous work package for the next work package. Work packages 1 and 6 are horizontal and will run through almost the entire project.

Work packages (phases)/duration in months 1-4 5-6 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-18 19-20 21-24
DS0 Project management and coordination
WP1 Research and preparation of starting points
1.1 Critical literature review                
1.2 Systematization of existing indicators                
1.3 Analysis of the Slovenian legislative framework and practice                
WP2 Data types and data sources
2.1 Overview and set of data sources                
2.2 Inventory Inventory Inventory of GI for physical activity                
2.3 Calculation of indicators                
WP3 Design and evaluation of indicators
3.1 Design of indicators                  
3.2 Definition of criteria and methodology for evaluating indicators                  
3.3 Evaluation of indicators                  
3.4 Selection of indicators for testing                  
3.5 Preparation of the final set of indicators or a common indicator                  
WP4 Pilots - testing indicators
4.1 Selection of municipalities for the pilots                
4.2 Testing indicators on selected cases                
4.3 Assessment of the state of supply with GI                
WP5 Recommendations and methodology for the use of indicators
5.1 Draft proposal for the use of indicators                
5.2 Possibilities for supplementing the contents of program "Health in the municipality"                
5.3 Intersectoral professional consultation and coordination with stakeholders                
5.4 Preparation of the document - indicators of provision of GI as a tool for municipalities to improve spatial conditions for physical activity                
5.5 Preparation of a protocol for data collection and calculation of indicators                
WP6 Dissemination

Results and publications

  • Kozamernik, J., Žlender, V., Šuklje Erjavec, I. Towards the evaluation of possible indicators for the provision of green spaces in settlements to promote physical activity among the population. V: Schrenk, M. (ur.). REAL CORP 2023: Let it grow, let us plan, let it grow: Nature-based solutions for sustainable resilient smart green and blue cities: Proceedings of 28th International Conference on Urban Planning, Regional Development and Information Society = Beiträge zur 28. internationalen Konferenz zu Stadtplanung, Regionalentwicklung und Informationsgesellschaft: GeoMultimedia 2023: 18-20 September 2023, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Vienna: CORP – Competence Center of Urban and Regional Planning: = Kompetenzzentrum für Stadtplanung und Regionalentwicklung, 2023. Str. 869-880, ilustr. Proceedings of International Conference on Urban Development, Regional Planning and Information Society (Online). ISBN 978-3-9504945-2-5. ISSN 2521-3938.
  • Šuklje Erjavec, I., Kozamernik, J., Žlender, V., Koblar, S. Framework for evaluation of green spaces for physical activity to support public health policy in Slovenia. European journal of public health. [Online ed.]. Sept. 2023, vol. 33, suppl. 1, [2] str. ISSN 1464-360X.
  • Žlender, V. Peri-urban landscape as an environment for health enhancing physical activity. European journal of public health. [Online ed.]. Sept. 2023, vol. 33, suppl. 1, [2] str. ISSN 1464-360X.