Green Cities Index

At TravelBird, we inspire curious people to explore the world. As a travel provider, we believe that comes with a responsibility to ensure we’re doing so in a sustainable way. With sustainability and green living becoming increasingly more prominent in contemporary life, we want to open the dialogue around sustainable tourism. Our latest offering comes in the form of the Green Cities Index, which recognises the cities currently making large efforts to be sustainable by preserving ecological areas, as well as those increasing their man-made green locations. This data driven piece, which analysed city maps from across the world, is the ultimate guide for nature lovers and environmentally-minded travellers alike.

To begin the study, we first looked at the largest OECD countries and hand-picked 50 cities, focusing on prominent city break destinations. We then analysed the area within the city limits of each location against three main categories of green space; Natural, Man-Made and Food Production. Within each larger criteria, we calculated the amount of varying types of greenery such as woodlands, public gardens, parks, golf courses, orchards, vineyards, farms and more.

To better understand how the green spaces in these cities might impact a traveller’s experience, we decided to present the data in terms of square metre per person. For example, the results show how many square metres of park or woodland each city has for every inhabitant. This creates an easy visualisation of how much green space a visitor could benefit from during a trip. In addition, we calculated the percentage that each type of green space accounts for in every destination. The study reveals not only the best urban areas for residents in terms of environment, but also pinpoints the perfect vacations for eco-conscious travellers.

The table below reveals the final results for all cities. By default, the table is ordered by the most squares metres of greenery per person overall, to the least. The data can be filtered by each individual criteria, from highest to lowest.

Legend
Forest & Woodland
Nature Reserve
Park
Public Garden
Maintained Grass
Golf Course
Orchard
Vineyard
Farmland
Green Cities Index
Overall green space
Natural Man-Made Food Production
# City
Forest & Woodland
Nature Reserve
Park
Public Garden
Maintained Grass
Golf Course
Orchard
Vineyard
Farmland
1 Reykjavik Iceland
Iceland
410.84 75.59 223.21 5.27 0.01 58.14 16.14 0.00 0.00 31.19
2 Auckland New Zealand
New Zealand
357.20 288.89 14.06 41.76 0.06 1.29 7.10 0.71 2.00 0.52
3 Bratislava Slovakia
Slovakia
332.99 200.37 1.14 6.86 2.86 17.08 0.02 0.06 10.80 71.84
4 Gothenburg Sweden
Sweden
313.87 221.18 48.99 3.17 0.16 13.65 6.44 0.01 0.00 38.96
5 Sydney Australia
Australia
235.73 77.45 70.18 54.40 0.31 2.34 17.23 0.00 0.00 7.24
6 Prague Czech Republic
Czech Republic
220.54 48.96 18.49 8.47 22.53 8.41 2.86 1.61 0.14 86.61
7 Rome Italy
Italy
166.47 31.39 135.01 13.14 0.80 3.87 1.14 0.59 0.22 21.15
8 Bern Switzerland
Switzerland
131.73 102.70 0.00 4.57 1.23 6.36 0.00 0.02 0.10 14.80
9 Hamburg Germany
Germany
114.07 33.68 24.78 12.54 0.00 4.11 0.00 9.11 0.00 0.00
10 Riga Latvia
Latvia
113.04 85.60 0.00 11.10 0.25 4.18 0.97 0.00 0.00 0.00
11 Marseille France
France
111.77 55.37 3.18 3.36 0.48 0.52 0.11 0.10 0.04 0.36
12 Warsaw Poland
Poland
109.45 41.98 19.76 8.32 0.61 15.84 0.04 0.36 0.00 22.07
13 Helsinki Finland
Finland
105.70 61.48 5.26 41.22 0.22 4.15 1.87 0.09 0.00 8.45
14 Edinburgh UK
UK
99.38 14.98 23.03 16.95 20.94 8.24 10.98 0.02 0.00 14.17
15 Tallinn Estonia
Estonia
96.10 65.10 0.00 11.23 0.00 6.56 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
16 Tel Aviv Israel
Israel
95.58 1.86 0.00 23.60 0.94 0.83 0.00 0.95 0.00 55.44
17 Vienna Austria
Austria
95.37 37.61 11.78 8.50 6.51 2.47 0.76 0.22 3.71 21.76
18 Berlin Germany
Germany
88.10 54.17 6.61 11.67 0.47 3.16 0.52 0.07 0.00 7.83
19 Rotterdam Netherlands
Netherlands
86.83 14.27 0.58 9.50 0.07 58.27 0.33 0.34 0.00 5.08
20 Budapest Hungary
Hungary
85.82 37.31 3.33 7.06 0.15 6.15 0.48 0.50 0.58 19.84
21 Madrid Spain
Spain
85.79 59.53 44.53 16.12 1.24 1.85 1.07 0.05 0.00 0.76
22 Zürich Switzerland
Switzerland
79.51 53.98 1.49 3.02 0.29 0.80 0.23 0.46 0.31 12.29
23 Amsterdam Netherlands
Netherlands
76.44 11.02 0.02 17.51 1.99 49.19 1.97 0.19 0.00 1.78
24 Munich Germany
Germany
72.49 20.40 2.07 18.27 0.70 2.97 0.16 0.15 0.00 24.38
25 Stockholm Sweden
Sweden
70.06 46.97 16.72 11.00 0.10 2.80 0.29 0.00 0.00 1.02
26 Washington, DC USA
USA
57.53 31.44 0.01 47.44 0.00 1.35 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
27 Los Angeles USA
USA
47.83 0.18 1.65 23.51 0.22 0.70 3.71 0.03 0.00 0.14
28 Tokyo Japan
Japan
45.64 40.09 0.06 3.38 0.20 0.35 1.07 0.00 0.00 0.73
29 Dublin Ireland
Ireland
44.88 3.16 4.96 30.16 0.78 7.19 3.74 0.00 0.00 0.63
30 Oslo Norway
Norway
39.05 26.81 1.25 5.54 0.12 0.41 0.59 0.05 0.00 1.64
31 Nicosia Cyprus
Cyprus
38.04 6.50 26.25 7.32 0.00 0.55 0.00 0.37 0.00 0.00
32 Lisbon Portugal
Portugal
37.33 1.30 18.64 10.71 0.67 3.75 0.57 0.00 0.09 0.24
33 Antwerp Belgium
Belgium
36.11 10.12 5.16 6.15 0.10 5.26 0.01 0.00 0.00 8.07
34 Manchester UK
UK
35.77 7.59 0.54 20.46 0.09 5.09 3.77 0.00 0.00 0.62
35 Luxembourg Luxembourg
Luxembourg
34.46 26.87 0.40 2.11 0.00 1.66 0.00 0.06 0.00 0.00
36 Copenhagen Denmark
Denmark
31.91 6.22 0.68 15.54 0.57 1.77 1.68 0.00 0.00 0.00
37 London UK
UK
31.69 11.69 0.78 16.13 0.00 2.72 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00
38 San Francisco USA
USA
21.34 1.04 0.00 19.09 0.18 0.55 3.12 0.00 0.00 0.00
39 Brussels Belgium
Belgium
19.61 10.95 0.22 5.31 2.19 0.16 0.31 0.00 0.00 1.32
40 Toronto Canada
Canada
18.64 5.20 3.69 10.60 0.01 1.46 1.43 0.00 0.00 0.17
41 Barcelona Spain
Spain
17.33 8.85 10.64 5.27 0.75 0.29 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.04
42 New York USA
USA
16.97 2.45 2.21 11.45 0.19 0.54 1.07 0.00 0.00 0.00
43 Seoul South Korea
South Korea
15.79 12.90 0.00 2.43 0.03 0.23 0.09 0.00 0.00 0.27
44 Mexico City Mexico
Mexico
14.35 8.68 1.70 2.03 0.04 0.55 0.16 0.00 0.00 1.19
45 Paris France
France
10.58 3.86 0.00 10.25 0.00 0.77 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
46 Santiago Chile
Chile
7.56 0.12 0.01 3.62 0.01 1.17 0.56 0.11 0.04 1.14
47 Lyon France
France
7.54 1.69 0.00 4.98 0.67 0.64 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00
48 Athens Greece
Greece
6.45 1.64 0.00 3.90 0.09 0.14 0.00 0.07 0.05 0.06
49 Istanbul Turkey
Turkey
4.98 3.45 0.01 0.95 0.01 0.30 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.02
50 Tokyo (Wards) Japan
Japan
4.03 0.46 0.09 2.70 0.26 0.44 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.15

Methodology

50 cities were hand-picked for this study by first looking at the biggest OECD countries and then pinpointing the most popular city break destinations.

Source for all criteria: OpenStreetMap

Greenery is defined by the categories Forest & Woodland, Nature Reserve, Park, Maintained Grass, Public Garden, Golf Course, Orchard, Vineyard, and Farmland as measured by OpenStreetMap in land use. If a situation occurred where two categories of greenery intersect, the intersection is only counted once towards the final score. For example, if a part of a forest is also a natural reserve, it is counted only once towards the overall green score.

The data is presented in two ways. As a percentage of total area of the city and as square meters per person. Population data and shapefiles of the cities are from local statistical departments, latest available.

For the final Green ‘scores’, these figures also include heathland, scrub, meadow, wetlands and village greens in each city, however the areas were so small they were not displayed on the final data table. Please contact TravelBird if you would like to receive this data.

Criteria Definitions

Natural
Forest & Woodland: Forest: managed forest or woodland plantation, wood: forest, sometimes considered to have restricted meaning "Woodland with no forestry".
Nature Reserve: A nature reserve (also called a natural reserve, bioreserve, (natural/nature) preserve, or (national/nature) conserve) is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research.

Man-Made
Park: A public green space, managed by the city or state. Often includes areas of recreation, rest and sports, such a playgrounds, stadiums and benches.
Maintained Grass: An area of mown and managed grass.
Public Garden: A garden which maintains and collects plants for the purposes of enjoyment and education, such as botanical gardens, zoological gardens and sculpture gardens. Public gardens can be both managed by both the city and private institutions.
Golf Course: A golf course is the grounds where the game of golf is played.

Food Production
Orchard: Intentional planting of trees or shrubs maintained for food production.
Vineyard: A piece of land where grapes are grown.
Farmland: An area of farmland used for tillage and pasture (animals, crops, vegetables, flowers, fruit growing).

General Notes

  • If the city has a value of zero for one criteria, it does not necessarily mean that the city does not contain any of that category of green space. A zero may also occur in the following cases: If the total area of the category in that city is less than 0.01% of the area of the city; If the category in that country is a part of another category. E.g. Golf courses in Washington DC. are part of parks, therefore golf courses are part of the park area in our data for that city. In another example, botanical gardens are not separated as different categories and show up as parks or grass areas in some cities.
  • In order to make cities comparable to each other, the city limits of some cities had to be adjusted. This is valid for Sydney, Nicosia, Tokyo, Istanbul, Edinburgh, Auckland and Oslo.
  • For Sydney, we include the suburbs of Sutherland, Ryde, South West, Parramatta, Northern Beaches, North Sydney and Homsby, Inner West, Inner South West, Eastern Suburbs, City and Inner South, and Blacktown.
  • For Nicosia, we include boroughs of Nicosia, Agios Dometios, Engomi, Aglangia, Strovolos, Lakatameia.
  • For Tokyo, we separate the Tokyo Metropolis (called Tokyo in the data) from Tokyo wards. Tokyo contains the whole metropolis area of Tokyo, while Tokyo wards include the special wards of Tokyo only: Adachi, Arakawa, Bunkyō, Chiyoda, Chūō, Edogawa, Itabashi, Katsushika, Kita, Kōtō, Meguro, Minato, Nakano, Nerima, Ōta, Setagaya, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Suginami, Sumida, Taitō, Toshima.
  • For Oslo, we include the boroughs of Alna, Bjerke, Frogner, Gamle Oslo, Grorud, Grünerløkka, Nordre Aker, Nordstrand, Sagene, St. Hanshaugen, Stovner, Søndre Nordstrand, Ullern, Vestre Aker and Østensjø.
  • For Istanbul, we include the districts of Üsküdar, Sultanbeyli, Bayrampaşa, Beylikduzu, Kartal, Gaziosmanpaşa, Esenyurt, Maltepe, Basaksehir, Ümraniye, Fatih, Avcılar, Atasehir, Beyoğlu, Bakırköy, Kadıköy, Kağıthane, Bahçelievler, Şişli, Bağcılar, Küçükçekmece, Beşiktaş, Esenler, Sultangazi, Güngören, Sancaktepe and Zeytinburnu.
  • For Edinburgh, we include the full NUTS 3 statistical area of Edinburgh, except the districts of Almond and Pentland Hills.
  • For Auckland, the official city limits include a wide range of the water bodies surrounding the city, while the alternative includes the whole Auckland Council boundaries. For the purpose of this study, when we talk about Auckland we mean the urban built-up areas of Auckland, otherwise defined as the ‘city’.
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