The international scientific literature calls for research on governing of greenspace, on local knowledge and on the impact of different actors on greenspace and its quality. It expresses concern about the sustainability of urbanization. This study makes a literature inventory concerning urban greenspace, especially using recent review articles and focusing on greenspace in a context of urban development, the meaning of nature, greenspace management and governing. It looks into governing at the level of functional urban areas and at the local, neighbourhood level. It makes an international comparison between functional urban areas by using the ‘policy arrangement approach’ which specifies the means of influence at the urban regional level, and collects evidence from case studies, based on four years of international research together with practitioners. At the local level, local initiatives by citizens in cooperation with municipalities or companies are studied. (Again) the means of influence are looked into, and the differences are identified with state management of greenspace and with the type and use of greenspace that the local state produces. By using the ‘multilevel perspective’ and ‘strategic niche management’ approaches from transition studies, the study identifies ways to upscale the local knowledge of citizens.
The thesis provides evidence that to preserve greenspace and integrate it in urban development, hierarchical government at the scale of the urban region is needed, equipped with a powerful set of means of influence. For the adaptation to local and private needs, pursuing complementarity between the means of local parties (citizens, companies) and the municipality is a workable strategy. The local study shows among others that innovation calls on all involved parties, not only the municipality.