WWF GreenSpaces – New App Raises Awareness for Natural Urban Areas

The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) GreenSpaces app is a Greek initiative focused on encouraging citizens to ‘reoccupy’ the nation’s greenspaces. In a month long campaign leading up World Environment Day on 5th June, Greek citizens were invited to participate by visiting and charting the nation’s city parks and other urban nature zones. The effort enjoyed an impressive kick-off with 400 volunteers in 82 Greek cities and towns weighing in on 720 green spaces during the first week. All participants were entered in a national drawing to win one of five bicycles provided by Praktiker stores.

Read on to learn more about this exciting project and answer these three questions.

Greece’s cities currently lack adequate greenspace

The GreenSpaces mobile app is a free tool provided by WWF Greece in conjunction with numerous organisations, including the Scouting Association of Greece, the British Council, and the Urban Environmental Workshop at the National Technical University of Athens among others. It is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation supervised by Spiro Latsis, his mother Henrietta and his sisters Margarita and Marianna.

The app is aimed at increasing Greece’s city greenspaces which currently fall well below the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended 9 square metres per urban resident. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has calculated Athens’ total green space at .96 square metres per resident, while the Aristotelian University rates Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, only slightly better with 2.14 square metres per city inhabitant.

WWF Greenspaces is a versatile app

The GreenSpaces app offers a number of options for citizens who want to use and learn about greenspaces, as well as for those who want to participate in the campaign for environmental awareness in Greece. Users can locate a greenspace area near them, chart a new greenspace, or rate and comment on an existing entry. By monitoring the WWF data, municipal authorities can easily see how local citizens feel about the parks and other greenspaces in their area. The app helps to provide hard data for any campaign aimed at improving access to natural areas.

Spiro Latsis

How to use the WWF Greenspaces app in 6 easy steps

  1. Sign in – after downloading the app you will need to sign in. Choose either a shared sign-in with Facebook, or create an individual password and ID with GreenSpaces itself.
  2. Finding a greenspace – the app presents a map-like interface that allows you to zoom in on a specific area. Greenspaces that have been marked and evaluated by other users will display as locations on the map. Once you click on the icon, the app will display details about the area, including its location, pictures and rating. Clicking on the green walker icon will take you to Google maps where you can find exact directions for how to get to the park. Once you’ve visited, you can add your own comments and rating, so later users will have a more accurate idea of what this greenspace is really like.
  3. Searching based on your interests – if you want to find a specific type of greenspace, such as a park with benches, or a playground for children, you can run a search that includes these criteria. Click on search, enter the specific feature you are looking for, and GreenSpaces will pull up local parks that have what you are looking for based on data entered by other users. Like Google maps or TripAdvisor, GreenSpaces will list these locations based on their relevancy and their proximity.
  4. Calling attention to a greenspace – you can also choose to ‘Follow’ the location so you will get further updates about its status and comments from others who have visited. You can click on the sharing link to promote the site on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. If you feel like the information on Greenspaces is inaccurate, you can also click on report and fill out a form to draw attention to the issue.
  5. Registering a new greenspace – the campaign is underway, but there are still hundreds of greenspaces that have not yet been entered into the app. Adding a new greenspace can be accomplished with only a few clicks. The app will mark your location on the map. If you find yourself at a park or other natural area that isn’t marked, simply click on your location until the tree-shaped icon appears. The address will be entered automatically. You will need to upload at least three photos of the location by clicking on the camera icon. After adding photos, review all the park’s characteristics so that later searches will accurately identify its features. Finish by rating the quality of the greenspace based on size, amount of greenery, cleanliness and other factors. Once you hit submit, all the data you entered will be available for the next person running a search on GreenSpaces.
  6. Actively campaigning – GreenSpaces is a tool for citizens to make their voices heard. If you feel there is not enough energy being invested in creating local greenspaces, the app will help you make an effective case. You can create a social media group and share information and statistics from GreenSpaces’ to promote your cause. One citizen requesting a better local park isn’t likely to get much attention, but a whole group of concerned residents brought together through GreenSpaces can create the publicity needed to force action.

WWF GreenSpaces is focused on creating better urban landscapes one greenspace at a time. To learn more, or download the app go to greenspaces.gr.