Access to the natural environment, including green space, parks and open space for leisure and recreation, broadly impacts physical, mental health and well-being. Developed open space is a measure that comprises mostly vegetation areas created for the purpose of recreation or aesthetics with a mixture of some constructed materials. Examples of developed open space areas include developed parks, outdoor recreation fields, golf courses, vegetation planted for erosion control or aesthetic purposes, as well as large single family housing parcels. This variable measures the land that has the least intensive human development, and where impervious surfaces account for less than 20% of the total land cover. Land classified as developed open space only constitutes around 3% of land cover in the 48 conterminous United States, yet these areas are important in urbanized regions to provide recreation and leisure access to nature. A higher percentage of open space, including developed open space, indicates better proximity to recreational or aesthetic natural spaces.
The percent of developed open space is derived from data produced by the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC). The MRLC published the 2011 National Land Cover Database (NLCD) and related datasets (tree canopy and impervious surface cover). The data are measured at the 30-meter grid cell for the entire United States, and are based on models of aerial photography from the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) and LandSat 5, elevation data, and previous NLCD data.
- Percent of developed open space = the average of the per pixel developed open space proportions for all pixels as a continuous variable from 1 to 100 percent.
The MSA level value is the unweighted mean of the values of all block groups in the MSA.
This indicator was calculated by the Urban Design 4 Health using data from the sources listed below.
- U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Geological Survey, Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC), 2011.
- U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Geological Survey, National Land Cover Database (NLCD), 2011.
- Lee, A.C.K. & Maheswaran, R. (2010). The Health Benefits of Urban Green Spaces: A Review of the Evidence. Journal of Public Health (Bangkok), 33(2), 212–222.
Homer, C.G., Dewitz, J.A., Yang, L., Jin, S., Danielson, P., Xian, G., Coulston, J., Herold, N.D., Wickham, J.D., & Megown, K. (2015). Completion of the 2011 National Land Cover Database for the Conterminous United States-Representing a Decade of Land Cover Change Information. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, 81(5), 345-354.