Land use is inextricably connected to community health outcomes, and maps provide an intuitive way to visualize and understand urban land use patterns. Maps can illustrate the geography of environmental injustices and offer a tool to advocate for improving environmental conditions through responsible and community-based land use decisions. This is why NJ Conservation Foundation is continuing our work with Rowan University and the Nature Conservancy to expand the existing NJ Map Conservation Blueprint (Blueprint) to include a Camden-specific health module that illustrates barriers in the built environment currently inhibiting access to green spaces. Our goal is to create a tool that can support local organizations to prioritize their projects and advocate for changing their built and natural environments to improve community health outcomes.
Together, our partnership is Green + Healthy Camden, a new project to support climate preparedness, equity, health, and park and open space planning.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation has worked in the City and County of Camden since 1986, advocating for and developing trails and green spaces to improve public access to nature in a highly urbanized area. As more studies emerge that provide an in-depth understanding of how accessible green spaces positively impact public health, NJ Conservation Foundation’s role in Camden has evolved to incorporate a critical public health lens that informs our work.
Our team has grown with the addition of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), who is also embarking on a land-use mapping project in Camden as a part of their Parks for People Camden and Climate-Smart Cities program. The program works to design, fund, and build climate-smart parks and green spaces to help make vulnerable communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. Similar to the Blueprint, TPL uses a mapping tool to help guide land-use decisions. In collaboration with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, this decision support tool will inform the development of a five-year parks and open space strategic plan for the city of Camden, ensuring more residents are within a 10-minute walk to a quality park or publicly accessible open space.
Together, our partnership is Green + Healthy Camden, a new project to support climate preparedness, equity, health, and park and open space planning. The Trust for Public Land, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Rowan University, the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority and community leaders are working together to develop publicly- available mapping tools to identify where investment can have the most beneficial impact on community equity, climate resilience, and public health in the City of Camden.