Worldwide, due to rapid urbanization, the provision of urban green spaces (UGSs) has become a primary goal of urban planning. As such, research on the benefits, effects, and challenges of UGSs has gained widespread attention among scholars. This paper comprehensively analyzes three decades of UGS research and its evolution; it conducts a bibliometric analysis of approximately 4000 articles and reviews from the Web of Science platform to discover the patterns and trends characterizing UGS research over time. We found that the pioneers of initial UGS research were the United States and Canada, whereas recently the European Union and China have become the global engines of research in the field. UGS research initially focused on studying urban forests, gradually shifting toward green spaces located in inner urban areas.
Early on, researchers investigated UGSs (i.e., urban forests) from an ecological perspective. However, the most current research phase focuses on the social aspects of UGSs, characterized by such keywords as environmental justice and accessibility. Furthermore, the introduction of geographic information systems (GIS) has given new impetus to the evolution of UGS research and has remained the most used technological advancement besides remote sensing techniques. As the social aspects of UGS research have gained importance, new research methods have been employed, such as machine learning, big data and social media data analysis, and artificial intelligence, most recently.