Factors that enhance or hinder social cohesion in urban greenspaces: A literature review

Mysha Clarke*, Stephanie Cadaval, Charles Wallace, Elsa Anderson, Monika Egerer, Lillian Dinkins, Ricardo Platero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Urban greenspaces–including city parks, forests, and gardens–can provide many benefits that impact human wellbeing. One such aspect of wellbeing is social cohesion, which is broadly defined as the combined reasons to stay in a particular community. Although there is an increase in studies connecting human wellbeing, social cohesion, and urban greenspace, there is limited synthesis of the three concepts. The purpose of this paper is to review how social cohesion has been used, defined, and measured in the scholarly literature. In addition, we assess the factors that hinder or enhance social cohesion in urban greenspace and opportunities for future research. We conducted a systematic literature review using the PRISMA procedures. After doing a search with keywords, we read the abstracts of 1129 articles and selected 113 that met our inclusion criteria for final in-depth analysis. We provide an overview and conceptual diagram of the factors that enhance or hinder social cohesion in urban greenspaces. Although all of the analyzed articles included social cohesion as a variable or topic of interest, only 17 of those articles clearly defined and measured social cohesion. The most impactful ways to enhance social cohesion include reducing crime, improving maintenance, and having physical space and amenities for social gatherings that cater to various demographics. Likewise, studies suggest that the perceptions of safety, level of maintenance, accessibility, and efforts to be inclusive of diverse users including cultural activities and community engagement spaces were important to social cohesion. Overall, more research is needed to better understand social cohesion and urban greenspace in developing countries, and more in-depth analysis from the perspective of diverse urban residents who use these greenspaces. The results of this study have implications for designing and managing urban greenspaces to enhance social cohesion, inclusion, and overall human wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number127936
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Neighborhood attachment
  • Place attachment
  • Sense of community
  • Social interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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