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Environ Eng Res > Volume 28(2); 2023 > Article
Setiowati, Mizuno, Hasibuan, and Koestoer: Urban green spaces for support healthiness in Jakarta during the COVID-19 pandemic: A quantitative study

Abstract

This research analyzes the criticality of Urban Green Spaces (UGS) environmental and health benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, restrictions on mobility, safety concerns, and restricted access during the implementation of social distancing policies tend to use UGS to provide alternative spaces for social interaction and health. This is a severe concern to Jakarta, as the epicenter of the pandemic outbreak with limited UGS. An online survey was conducted from March to April 2021 to understand better and investigate the impact of COVID-19 on the use of UGS and behavior-changing of visitation. The results show that respondents continued to use UGS during the pandemic and considered it more beneficial for health. However, the result showed that residents’ considerations of staying active for health reasons, reduced stress, and boredom. This research provides empirical evidence illustrating the value of UGS as a resilient city infrastructure, therefore, the management policy in this city can be considered with potential application to other cities.

1. Introduction

The United Nations estimates 68% migration to cities by 2050 [1], and rapid urbanization causes a steep development in urban cities and often sacrifices green areas converted into buildings [2]. As the national capital, Jakarta has the densest population in Indonesia at 15,663 people/km2 [3]. Urbanization started in this city before spreading to others with land cover changes, primarily converting vegetated areas to built-up areas [4]. Furthermore, the UGS area in this city decreased by 342.40 hectares between 2011 and 2018 [5].
The research of the UGS in this decade is a concern to discuss because of its ecological, social, economic, and health effects on the cities. The vital role of green space as one of the keys to achieving a sustainable city and social services [6, 7], provides cultural and ecological values [8], and provides benefits for health and well-being [9]. Byrne and Sipe [10] also stated the ecological benefits of ecosystem services by protecting habitat and biodiversity. Furthermore, it provides various environmental and health benefits, which may become critical during a pandemic [11]. Outdoor recreation contributed to physical and mental health [12] and was in the spotlight due to movement restrictions administered to prevent the spread of the virus [13].
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and declared a public health emergency by WHO on January 30, 2020. However, the pandemic problem is continuing currently, and the whole world is facing a difficult time caused by this pandemic. President Joko Widodo announced the first case of COVID-19 on March 2, 2020, and presently, it has spread in Indonesia, with the highest cases in Jakarta. Indonesia is still struggling with this pandemic, as of April 3, 2022, there were 6.019.981 cases with 155,288 deaths, which is the highest in the Southeast Asia region. As the capital city, Jakarta has 1,239,622 cases of COVID-19 or 20.80% of the national cases. The spread of COVID-19 risk in Jakarta can be seen in Fig. 1.
Indonesia put out the regulation Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) and Enforcement of Restrictions on Community Activities (PPKM) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The government issued policies in the form of the closure of parks and urban forests during the pandemic. Furthermore, several research related to the perception and use of UGS during the COVID-19 pandemic have been carried out. For example, research in the United States found that closing parks are not the right solution in times of pandemic [15], but the government issued policies in the form of the closure of parks and urban forests.
To better understand some of these intersecting issues, an online survey was implemented for the residents of Jakarta from March to April 2021 to assess the use and perception of urban green spaces. Research related to the use of public green open spaces during the pandemic has not been carried out in Indonesia. However, based on the available empirical evidence, there has been a change in people’s behavior during the pandemic in Jakarta [16]. The community’s need for recreation and exercise in nature reduces the psychological impact caused by social restrictions.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Research Area

This research was conducted in Jakarta Province, Indonesia, which is one of the megacities in the world. It has five administrative cities of South, Central, East, West, and North Jakarta. This province has land and sea areas of 662.33 km2 and 6,977.5 km2, respectively, with a population of 10,557,810 in 2020 [3], estimated to reach 12,500,000 in 2030.

2.2. Data Collection

An online questionnaire was used for 2 months (March – April 2021) released through social media (i.e., WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook), and participants were promoted to share it with more residents. Colleagues also helped in distributing the questionnaire, and this research explains the role of UGS during the pandemic. The criteria for participating were residents in Jakarta Province, and the questionnaire was developed and divided into three parts: (a) social-demographic characteristics; (b) patterns of UGS visitation before, and (c) patterns of UGS visitation during the pandemic. A total of 2,177 people took part in the questionnaire survey, out of which 517 responses were eliminated due to incomplete data, over representativeness in one area, and redundancy. This left a final sample of 1,660 responses was subjected to statistical analysis. It was performed with SPSS version 25, using paired sample t-test to investigate the relationship between the significant correlation between visiting UGS for recreational activities before and during the pandemic. The results presented with a significant 95% confidence interval.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Socio-demographic Characteristics

Concerning the socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents, participation was distributed between 20–60 years of age. They were primarily in Elementary-High School (60.54%), and participants were better educated since 38.86% selected “college” to describe their education status. Respondents have primarily selected “others” (34.16%) and as a staff (25.42%) for their occupation. The income of the respondents was mainly distributed in the groups of < 4.5 million (68.31%) and 4.5–10 million (15.90%) Rupiah per month. The detail of the socio-demographic characteristics and the distribution of respondents can be seen in Table 1 and Fig. 2, respectively.

3.2. Pattern of Urban Green Space Visitation

UGS provides environmental and social benefits relevant to the life quality of residents [17], which include improved mental and physical health, stress reduction, and relaxation [18] to lower local temperatures and reduce the effects of heat on residents [19]. In addition, UGS directly improves the quality of life through the benefits of active and passive recreation [17] and stress reduction [20].
Individual differences in the value of infrastructure are based on relational dimensions, knowledge as a supporting factor for demographics, socioeconomic status, value orientation, observations of behavior or preferences, and modeling [2122]. The function of UGS requires an analysis of preferences, perceptions, and barriers to access [23]. Chiesura [7] analyzes the reasons and benefits people feel from visiting city parks. According to cultural theory, human perceptions and preferences for nature are shaped by social, cultural, and individual characteristics [24]. Research findings showed individual attitudes towards UGS with significant differences in location [25] and country [26]. Several research also linked socio-economic characteristics with attitudes, perceptions, and preferences [27].
The current pandemic is very interesting to investigate people’s behavior and perceptions of UGS due to social restrictions [28]. Urban policies and planning are needed concerning the new behaviors and needs that have emerged from the pandemic. Another research found that recreational activities on green and remote sidewalks increased by 291% [29]. The mobility limitation has opened up perspectives on the importance of UGS for resilient city design [29].
Several media reports and research results supported evidence that park visits increased during the COVID-19 pandemic [30]. Slater et al. [31] provided short-term and long-term recommendations to promote access to green spaces by enabling the application of physical distancing. Lopez et al. [15] suggested that UGS use is considered more important for mental and physical health than before the pandemic. This research agrees that UGS is part of the design of resilient cities to a pandemic.
During the pandemic, several cities in Europe experienced an increasing need for public space and realized the importance of preserving and developing urban green infrastructure [32]. Kleinschroth and Kowarik [32] also agreed that the pandemic is a driver for sustainable planning to create more UGS [29]. Based on the previous explanation, this research aims to review and investigate the policies of Jakarta Government in terms of closing parks and urban forests. It also provides input to the government based on literature and can be considered in conducting policy research during a pandemic.
Jakarta Government has implemented the PSBB policy to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the Central Government issued an emergency PPKM policy because the pandemic condition was getting higher in July 2021. As a result of UGS’s closure, PSBB and PPKM closed or restricted public facilities in Jakarta. One of the restrictions was related to activities in public places or facilities covering all parks and urban forests. UGS represents that urban design resources are aesthetically, holistically, and comprehensively related to the concept of green infrastructure, integrating the perceptions and preferences of citizens in planning and managing [33].
Due to urbanization, changes in land use have developed rapidly over the decades. Therefore, previous research on UGS had different values due to variations in methods. According to Law No. 26/2007, the target for 2030 Jakarta Spatial Planning is 30%. However, the highest UGS area is located in East, South, North, Central, and West Jakarta at 31.15%, 24.23%, 22.95%, 12.84%, and 8.8%, respectively, as seen in Fig. 3.
During the pandemic, there was a change in behavior to exercise and recreation in UGS in Jakarta. There has been a decline in recreational activities due to government policies and limitations. The category most visited for recreation is located in a park at 31.07%, followed by urban forest at 11.74%. In this research, recreational activities in the green line increased by 0.42 % during the pandemic, similar to Lopez et al. [15]. In UGS, 75.22% engaged in exercise activities, and the category most visited for exercise is located in the park at 34.38%, followed by the green line at 20.40%, and the lowest cemetery at 1.21 %. Exercise activities on the green line did not change people’s behavior, and they only decreased by 0.11%. The comparison of activities before and during the pandemic in UGS can be seen in Table 2.
There has been a decrease in recreational activities in all frequency categories during the pandemic in Jakarta, with the highest frequency of 33.98%, once a week at 24.10%, more than once a week at 11.75%, and the lowest once a month at 4.04%. The highest deviation occurred in the never-recreation category of 18.13, which increased during the pandemic to 26.14%. There has been an increase in exercise activities once a month and not routinely during the pandemic. However, respondents still exercise in UGS with a non-routine frequency of 35.12%, once a week by 15.48%, more than once a week at 6.57%, and once a month at 5.96%. The most significant deviation occurred in the never category, which increased by 30.54%. The weekly category and the more than once-a-week category, decreased by 25.49%, and 12.29%, respectively. The comparison of the frequency of activities before and during the pandemic can be seen in Table 3.
The questionnaire results showed that respondents continued to carry out activities in UGS due to considerations for maintaining health, reducing stress and boredom by 30.48%, 23.48%, and 20.98%, respectively. However, some respondents did not visit UGS because of the crowd, lack of social distance, and safety concerns under the findings by Ugolini et al. [28] and Venter et al. [29]. The community considerations at UGS during the pandemic in Jakarta can be seen in Table 4.
Respondents were also asked when recreational and exercise activities were carried out in UGS located in Jakarta or outside during and before the pandemic. The most significant deviation occurred in the Never and Jakarta categories, which increased and decreased by 31.74% and 15.06% for recreation and exercise activities. Jakarta is surrounded by other cities such as Bogor, Bekasi, Depok, and Tangerang. These cities have many tourist destinations, such as mountains and beaches, which are the choices for residents to travel. Furthermore, UGS’s psychological importance in reducing stress and boredom due to social restrictions. The comparison of traveling to UGS before and during the pandemic can be seen in Table 5.
This research uses a paired sample t-test with a 95% confidence level to determine the significant correlation between visits before and during the pandemic. A paired-samples t-test compares the mean of people examined at two different times [34]. Comparison with a paired-samples t-test of visits to recreation activity before and during the pandemic to parks, green lines, urban forests, reservoirs, streams, and coasts had a significant correlation, but to the cemetery is not significant. The result paired-samples t-test of exercise activities had a significant correlation in all UGS categories and is shown in Table 2.
The frequency of visitation for exercise and recreation have a significant correlation, except in the once-a-month exercise activities category shown in Table 3. Furthermore, Table 5 shows the recreational activities in Jakarta and outside Jakarta category have a significant while the Jakarta and outside Jakarta category, not significant correlation. Furthermore, visits to exercise activities outside Jakarta and the Jakarta and outside Jakarta category were significantly correlated.
Cities face the difficult challenge of allocating limited resources and funding to build parks to withstand current and future extreme events [15]. Jakarta experiences poverty, congestion, floods, and decreased environmental quality, including a reduction in UGS. One of the policies issued was PSBB by limiting and closing green open spaces. The implementation covers school and work vacations; restrictions on religious; public places or facilities; social and cultural activities; as well as the mode of transportation to defense and security aspects.
During the pandemic, air quality has improved in cities [35], including densely populated areas such as Southeast Asia, due to lockdowns [36]. However, no research examined the impact of the pandemic on park use since the need for outdoor space is evident from the increasing number of cyclists. The interest in cycling increased when PSBB was established, becoming a new culture for urban communities. Based on the results of the ITDP survey in 2020, the number of cyclists during PSBB has increased 10 times before the COVID-19 pandemic. Jakarta Government will improve bicycle lanes and the demand to implement a car-free day every Sunday at Jalan Sudirman Thamrin is relatively high. Therefore, the need for outdoor space for exercise, activities with family and colleagues is part of the dilemma during the PSBB and PPKM to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Indonesia is experiencing a critical spike with widespread social, economic, and health impacts [37]. Pandemics can improve environmental management, given the aggravated health and ecological risks [38]. Criticism has been directed at central and local governments on the lack of preparedness and the impact on the health and social welfare system. The Indonesian government initially issued several controversial statements from state officials, stating that the pandemic cannot affect the country due to tropical climate, beliefs, and even ethnic excellence [39]. However, the challenges of facing soaring numbers and differing views on the response between the central and local governments highlight continuing issues [37].

4. Conclusions

Jakarta is facing a pandemic with the highest number of cases in Indonesia, and this research is the first to explore the community’s behavior in visiting UGS. Despite the policy of closing parks and urban forests, evidence was provided for the activities. The communities still need to visit the parks for mental and physical health by conducting recreational and exercise activities. UGS category most visited for recreation is located in a park at 31.07% and 34.38% for exercise. The highest deviation with the significant correlation occurred in parks at 10.4% and for exercise at 11.27% due to the closure. Parks, green lines, and urban forests are still choices for residents to carry out recreational and exercise activities. There has been a change in behavior towards UGS in increased recreation activity with the green line, which has become a driving force for urban policies in response to new behaviors and needs arising from the pandemic.
The highest deviation decrease in recreation activity was on the frequency of once a month at 7.65% and not a routine at 5.06%, for recreation, as well as once and twice a week at 25.48% and 12.29% for exercise. Despite social restrictions, exercise frequency increased during the once-a-month and not routine categories. Residents’ mobility to UGS in and outside Jakarta was significantly reduced, and recreation activities decreased with exercise. Outside of Jakarta, mobility is limited due to the city’s geographical proximity to numerous tourist spots. The community’s considerations are not to stay active in UGS because of the crowd, lack of social distance, and safety concerns.
However, there was no related research on the regional scale based on empirical evidence, and the urban policies are caused by the community’s need for outdoor space and relaxation of greening to reduce the psychological impact caused. Jakarta Government can consider opening parks and urban forests by prioritizing health protocols. Therefore, this evidence can be considered by policymakers in other cities when an outbreak occurs in the future.

Acknowledgment

This research was funded by Research and Development Division of Universitas Indonesia, grant number NKB-1021/UN2.R3.1/HKP.05.00/2019. Sincere appreciation is extended to anonymous reviewers for corrections and comments.

Notes

Conflict-of-Interest

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Author Contributions

S.R. (Ph.D Student) conducted all the experiments and wrote the manuscript. M.K (Professor), K.R.H (Professor), and H.S.B (Ph.D) as well revised the manuscript.

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Fig. 1
Spread of Covid-19 risk in Jakarta: (a) June 2021; (b) July 2021 [14].
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Fig. 2
Distribution of respondents.
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Fig. 3
Urban green spaces in Jakarta.
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Table 1
Socio-demographic Characteristics of Respondents
Demographic Variable N Percentage (%)
Age < 20 37 2.23
20–60 1,562 94.10
> 60 61 3.67
Income/month *) < 4.5 Million Rupiah 1,134 68.31
4.5–10 Million Rupiah 264 15.90
11–20 Million Rupiah 89 5.36
> 20 Million Rupiah 173 10.42
Education No education 10 0.60
Elementary – High School 1,005 60.54
College 645 38.86
Occupation Unemployment 412 24.82
Staff 422 25.42
Self-employment 164 9.88
Laborer 95 5.72
Others 567 34.16
Municipality South Jakarta 340 20.48
West Jakarta 326 19.64
East Jakarta 448 26.99
Centre Jakarta 286 17.23
North Jakarta 260 15.66
Table 2
The Comparison of Activities before and during the Pandemic in UGS
No. Urban Green Space Before the pandemic [%] During pandemic [%] Deviation Paired Samples T-Test (2-tailed)
Recreation Activity
1. Park 41.47 31.07 −10.4 15.277**
2. Green Line 10.40 10.82 0.42 14.120**
3. Urban Forest 18.79 11.74 −7.05 −7.834**
4. Reservoir 9.84 5.36 −4.48 2.746**
5. Stream 2.85 2.36 −0.49 12.888**
6. Coast 8.07 4.21 −3.86 11.962**
7. Cemetery 1.29 1.11 −0.18 1.861
8. “Never” 7.29 33.33 26.04 −16.312**

Exercise Activity
1. Park 45.65 34.38 −11.27 15.987**
2. Green Line 20.51 20.40 −0.11 6.154**
3. Urban Forest 13.36 10.27 −3.09 2.942**
4. Reservoir 5.45 4.69 −0.76 2.267**
5. Stream 2.89 2.32 −0.57 2.040**
6. Coast 2.21 1.96 −0.25 2.220**
7. Cemetery 1.58 1.21 −0.37 2.651**
8. “Never” 8.34 24.78 16.44 −16.280**

Note:

** indicates p ≤ 0.05

Table 3
The Comparison of Frequency Activities before and during the Pandemic in UGS
No. Frequency Before the pandemic [%] During pandemic [%] Deviation Paired Samples T-Test (2-tailed)
Recreation Activity
1. Once a week 26.75 24.10 −2.65 18.128**
2. More than once a week 14.52 11.75 −2.77 23.508**
3. Once a month 11.69 4.04 −7.65 14.742**
4. Not a routine 39.04 33.98 −5.06 2.790**
5. Never 8.01 26.14 18.13 −23.512**

Exercise Activity
1. Once a week 40.96 15.48 −25.48 6.770**
2. More than once a week 18.86 6.57 −12.29 11.971**
3. Once a month 4.52 5.96 1.44 0.763
4. Not a routine 29.34 35.12 5.78 −3.314**
5. Never 6.33 36.87 30.54 −16.966**

Note:

** indicates p ≤ 0.05

Table 4
Community Considerations during the Pandemic
No. Considerations During the pandemic [%]
For Activities at UGS
1. Maintaining health 30.48
2. Reducing stress 23.48
3. Boredom 20.98
4. Enjoy nature 14.80
5. Serenity 6.85
6. Meeting 2.20
7 Lifestyle 1.21

Not to Activities at UGS
1. Crowded 30.08
2. No social distance 28.95
3. Not safe 22.03
4. Not maintained 7.76
5. Not child friendly 4.94
6. Accessibility 4.06
7. Lack of lighting 2.17
Table 5
The Comparison of Traveling to UGS Activities before and during the Pandemic
No. Traveling to UGS Before the pandemic [%] During pandemic [%] Deviation Paired Samples T-Test (2-tailed)
Recreation Activity
1. Jakarta 60.72 47.05 −13.67 −38.393**
2. Jakarta and Outside Jakarta 25.96 10.90 −15.06 −14.249
3. Outside Jakarta 6.81 3.80 −3.01 −8.090**
4. Never 6.51 38.25 31.74 −32.059**
Exercise Activity
1. Jakarta 78.98 58.86 −20.12 15.454**
2. Jakarta and Outside Jakarta 12.65 7.59 −5.06 6.772**
3. Outside Jakarta 2.11 2.11 0 0
4. Never 6.27 31.45 25.18 −22.001**

Note:

** indicates p ≤ 0.05

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