For most of the world’s population, urban green spaces (UGS) offer the easiest form of contact with nature. Such environments deliver a wide variety of Recreational Ecosystem Services (RES) to visitors. This paper explores RES delivery in different types of UGS, differentiated with respect to their naturalness and distance from the city centre. Furthermore, it investigates how the identified use patterns are affected by an abrupt change in access. We extract data from Instagram, posted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for Warsaw, Poland, and use it to measure both the intensity of use of UGS, and the experience of Instagram users. Furthermore, we compare these data with data from the same period for the previous year (2019). Our results indicate that, in typical conditions, the wilder the area, the fewer visitors. RES patterns changed, however, when access to UGS was restricted. The recent COVID-19 outbreak showed that soon after restrictions on visiting UGS were lifted, recreation shifted towards wilder green areas. Moreover, users became more oriented to wild nature. We conclude that the number of visitors, and the pattern of recreational use of UGS, are highly dependent on the character of green spaces across the urban wilderness continuum, and that they are influenced by abrupt changes in access.
Grzyb T., Kulczyk S., Derek M., Woźniak E. (2021), Using social media to assess recreation across urban green spaces in times of abrupt change