Mapping urban green infrastructure: a novel landscape-based approach to incorporating land-use and land-cover in the mapping of human-dominated systems

Matthew Dennis, David Barlow, Gina Cavan, Penny Cook, Anna Gilchrist, John Handley, Philip James, Jessica Thompson, Konstantinos Tzoulas, Phil Wheater, Sarah Lindley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Common approaches to mapping green infrastructure in urbanised landscapes invariably focus on measures of land use or land cover and associated functional or physical traits. However, such one-dimensional perspectives do not accurately capture the character and complexity of the landscapes in which urban inhabitants live. The new approach presented in this paper demonstrates how open-source, high spatial and temporal resolution data with global coverage can be used to measure and represent the landscape qualities of urban environments. Through going beyond simple metrics of quantity, such as percentage green and blue cover, it is now possible to explore the extent to which landscape quality helps to unpick the mixed evidence presented in the literature on the benefits of urban nature to human well-being. Here we present a landscape approach, employing remote sensing, GIS and data reduction techniques to map urban green infrastructure elements in a large U.K. city region. Comparison with existing urban datasets demonstrates considerable improvement in terms of coverage and thematic detail. The characterisation of landscapes, using census tracts as spatial units, and subsequent exploration of associations with social–ecological attributes highlights the further detail that can be uncovered by the approach. For example, eight urban landscape types identified for the case study city exhibited associations with distinct socioeconomic conditions accountable not only to quantities but also qualities of green and blue space. The identification of individual landscape features through simultaneous measures of land use and land cover demonstrated unique and significant associations between the former and indicators of human health and ecological condition. The approach may therefore provide a promising basis for developing further insight into processes and characteristics that affect human health and well-being in urban areas, both in the United Kingdom and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2018


  • health and well-being
  • GIS
  • Remote sensing
  • Urban ecosystems
  • Social-ecological systems

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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