Part of: Social Equity Considerations for Cities’ Decision Making Related to Inner, Nearby, and Faraway Forests

Accessibility and Safety Considerations in Inner Forests


Like other public spaces, it is important to design inner forests to meet the needs of all users, including women, the disabled, the elderly, and children. Gathering information from these groups or conducting safety audits will help respond to their specific needs, such as infrastructure needs like lights, benches, ramps, and restrooms. (Habitat International Coalition, n.d.)

Simultaneously, it is important for city leaders to have plans in place to limit actions that discourage potential harmful uses, such as drug dealing and crime. (Mummert, 2018)

Potential accessibility and safety-related design elements may include benches, clearer pathways, fewer dense bushes, restrooms, etc. Image: Cities4Forests.

Studies have shown that the type, density, and maintenance of vegetation affect perceived personal safety, which includes fear of crime and violence, varying by the gender, age, and socioeconomic status of the users. (Baran et al, 2018Johansson, Johansson, and Andersson, 2018) A mapping activity conducted by Plan International in 2018 revealed that in Delhi, Sydney, and Madrid, women perceived urban parks comprised 20% of all unsafe public spaces, characterized by the incidence of physical and sexual assault.

Example of a mapping exercise. To see additional city examples, click on the city names in the map legend. Source: Plan International.