A critical examination of the relationship between urban greenness and sustainable development of urban spaces in UMhlathuze, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa

Chihambakwe, Fidelis
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Globally, urban areas are the fastest growing land cover with significant numbers of people residing within these urban spaces. The continuous growth and expansion of urban settlements continue to exert unprecedented negative pressure on the natural environment, and green spaces are increasingly disappearing. In most intermediate and secondary cities of developing countries, loss of urban green spaces is partly due to the knowledge gap in urban planning as well as the lack of comprehensive assessment of the challenges and factors contributing to the deteriorations of urban spaces in these cities. In any given urban environment, green spaces of all types are acknowledged for creating valuable economic, social and environmental services. Urban green spaces are fast becoming means to sustainable development due to their extensive multifunctional roles and benefits to different users. This research focusses on critically assessing the relationship that exists between urban greenness and sustainable development in the city of UMhlathuze, KZN, South Africa. It also explores how urban greening is increasingly tied to urban planning and the challenges that urban greening faces in the context of rapidly increasing urbanisation. Results of this study show that there is increasing need to improve green spaces especially for low income groups who cannot afford to travel out of town to experience natural environments. Urban development therefore calls for stakeholders to follow the principles of sustainable development with reference to ecological systems in urban areas, including community green spaces, gardens, biodiversity, native species and urban green infrastructure. If urban greening is properly planned and integrated into urban development and planning policies, it can brings economic, social and environmental benefits to developing world cities.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science. Johannesburg, May 2016.