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From “red” to green? A look into the evolution of green spaces in a post-socialist city

Badiu, Denisa L., Onose, Diana A., Niță, Mihai R., Lafortezza, Raffaele
Landscape and urban planning 2019 v.187 pp. 156-164
aerial photography, cities, ecosystem services, green infrastructure, land management, ownership, planning, public lands, urban areas, urban parks, Romania
Promoting green infrastructure and other nature-based solutions in urban environments is considered an effective approach to achieve resilience and meet sustainability goals. Countries with a post-Socialist history are still struggling to increase the amount of green spaces in cities. Bucharest is an example of a city that has undergone considerable transformation during the Socialist period (1948–1990) and after. Back then the drivers of urban transformation were mainly related to public land management, whereas after the fall of the Socialist regime private development prevailed. Our study aims to analyze the shift in the amount and distribution of green spaces in Bucharest as a consequence of the transition from a centralized planning system to a market-based system. We used historical maps and aerial images to determine spatial-temporal changes in the structure of Bucharest‘s urban parks and their surrounding areas. To determine the influence of planning approaches on green spaces, we analyzed the legislative framework from the Socialist period (labeled as “red”) and post-Socialist period. Our results showed that the fall of the Socialist regime represented an important institutional change affecting urban green spaces. There was a major increase in the surface and number of green spaces during the Socialist period and a decrease afterwards as a consequence of a weak legislative framework, restitution of lands and ownership conflicts. Our findings provide valuable knowledge on the evolutionary urban processes and sustainability approaches of the post-Socialist period in Romania and important insights for improving planning efforts and maximizing ecosystem services in cities.