PHD Project

October 12, 2020

Urban greenspace – what attributes determine wellbeing?

Urban greenspace – what attributes determine wellbeing ?

Stress is ubiquitous in UK society (85% of which is urban). However, access to green space is correlated with better quality of life, and can actively reduce levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. In total, the 160,000 urban greenspace areas in the UK are estimated to provide £130 billion in ecosystem service benefits.

Much of the literature linking greenspace and wellbeing focuses only on the presence of accessible greenspace. Separate studies have focused on particular biodiversity elements (e.g. wildflower meadows, visible and audible birds). However, the structural attributes of greenspace have been little studied, and how those influence the value that individuals place on components of greenspace. This includes biodiversity aspects like type and sex of tree, the physical structure of the greenspace, the balance of services provided by different elements in greenspace, and recognising some of the disbenefits associated with more diverse ecological systems.

This project will work with ecological data, augmented and virtual reality (VR) technology and smartphone surveys to examine whether public perceptions of greenspace value match both the ecological value and the ecosystem service benefit.

Specific questions the study will address are:

  • Do people differentiate between structural elements in greenspace (hedges, trees) and do variations in these attributes elicit different values from the public, when combined with the service they provide (e.g. noise mitigation)?
  • Does variation in attributes linked to biodiversity composition (e.g. flowering or fruiting female trees vs non-fruiting) alter the values people assign to greenspace?
  • Do visual cues on some of the potential dis-benefits (leaves on parked cars, densely packed gloomy trees) alter the perceived value provided by greenspace ?

The project will partner with The Tree Council and with Liverpool City Council


Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Geography, Forestry, Biology, Botany or Natural Sciences. Experience of fieldwork within the UK, spatial modelling (e.g. GIS), writing computer code (e.g. R statistics) and developing apps would be advantageous.


For further details please contact Prof Laurence Jones (