Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Natual Science and Mathematics, Geography and the Environment

First Advisor

Paul C. Sutton

Second Advisor

Eric Boschmann

Third Advisor

Kristopher Kuzera


Critical geography, Ecosystem services, Environmental justice, Equity, Urban green space, Urban sustainability


Studies have shown that communities of color and low-income populations are likely to live in neighborhoods that lack access to quality green spaces, unable to directly benefit from the environmental, recreational, and cultural services they provide. The goal of this research was to determine if the green space inequality patterns seen globally and nationally exist in the Denver Metropolitan Area. Using an existing green space dataset, ecosystem services fieldwork, GIS digitizing, and bivariate correlation analysis I uncovered numerous green space inequalities based on proximity, acreage, and quality. Key findings included 1) Lakewood’s Hispanic and less-educated populations have relatively little access to green space for acreage and proximity; 2) Denver’s Hispanic, Black, and lower-income populations have slightly better access to green space than White and higher-income populations; 3) Aurora’s White populations have much better access to green space than its Hispanic, Black, and Asian populations; 4) for green space quality, as defined by ecosystem services, Lakewood and Aurora appear to have the least amount of disparity, and the most striking result was the positive relationship between the ecosystem service index score and White populations in Denver; 5) Denver neighborhoods with a high concentration of females have statistically less access to high quality green spaces than males; 6) Lakewood’s ecosystem services scores are the lowest, which means that its green spaces provide relatively fewer benefits than Denver or Aurora; and 7) Aurora’s Asian populations appear to live in neighborhoods that have the highest quality green spaces in all of Aurora.

Using equity mapping techniques and spatial statistics I identified three clusters of green space inequality and focused a critical urban geography lens on its green spaces and surrounding neighborhoods. I outlined their histories and examined factors that led to these spatial disparities based on green privilege, environmental justice, and green gentrification. I used environmental justice theory, in the form of distributional, procedural, and recognitional justice to promote solutions to the wicked problem of green space inequality. Finally, I proposed a new conceptual framework for understanding the push-pull dynamics and multitude of factors that can either mitigate or multiply green space equality.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Joshua Charles Baldwin


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

209 p.


Geography, Environmental justice, Sustainability