For the first time in its history, a national ranking of urban green space in America is not only looking at the number and quality of parks within the country’s 100 largest cities, but also the equity of their distribution — shining a spotlight on the glaring gaps between access to nature along racial and socioeconomic lines.

Historically, the Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore index ranked cities based on four factors: acreage, investment, amenities, and access. But the 2021 index, released Thursday, includes equity components that compare, for example, park space per capita for mostly neighborhoods of color versus white neighborhoods, space per capita for low-income versus high-income neighborhoods, and how many low-income and people of color are within 10 minutes walking distance of a park.

“It’s been something that park systems and cities have asked us about repeatedly over the years,” Linda Hwang, director of strategy and innovation at the Trust for Public Land, told Grist. “We’re really proud to be able to include that category into the index in the rankings this year.”

The addition of equity addressed a disparity in the Trust for Public Land’s scoring process that allowed Minneapolis to rank number one seven out of the nine times it had previously been included in the analysis, despite well-known inequality issues across the city’s parks. Washington D.C.’s park network instead grabbed the top spot this year.

Read the full article about equitably distributed green space by Jena Brooker at Grist.