PAS QuickNotes 87

By Petra Hurtado, PhD


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Biophilia (bio = life, living things; philia = love for) describes the innate human desire to connect with other living things and the natural environment. Multiple studies have shown that the connection to nature has numerous positive impacts on physical and mental health. Yet decades of urbanization and sedentary lifestyles have disconnected people from nature; we spend most of the day sitting indoors without easy access to green space.

While planners have long been aware of the benefits from nature exposure, most U.S. cities still lack an equitable and effective integration of nature. This issue resurfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were forced to shelter in place in their nature-deprived neighborhoods.

This edition of PAS QuickNotes emphasizes the importance of biophilia in planning and explains how planners can create biophilic cities and communities that provide equitable access to nature and green space design that offers an effective nature experience for all.


Page Count
Date Published
Aug. 1, 2020
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Petra Hurtado, PhD
<p>Petra (Stieninger) Hurtado is the Director of Research and Foresight at the American Planning Association, heading APA&rsquo;s research programs and foresight practice. In this role, she is responsible for expanding a future-focused research agenda, advancing planning practices that assist communities in navigating change, and developing APA&#39;s foresight practice to inform APA&#39;s strategic governance. Petra has a Ph.D. in urban planning from the Vienna University of Technology. Her areas of expertise and research include strategic foresight, urban futures, urban sustainability, smart cities, emerging technologies, nature-based solutions, and environmental psychology. Prior to joining APA, she worked as an advisor, planner, researcher, and educator in the global urban sustainability arena. Petra has authored and co-authored multiple books, research papers, publicly funded reports, and articles and has presented as a keynote speaker at numerous conferences around the globe. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and at the Vienna University of Technology.&nbsp;</p>