Under the pressure of sweltering heat and extreme weather events brought on by global warming, societies are re-thinking urban living. Unlike previous times when urban greenery has been a mere decor, today, its full effects on the quality of city living are seriously being considered.
Not surprisingly, it turns out urban green spaces have a lot to offer.
The topics that have primarily been in focus lately are the green spaces’ ability to make our hometowns cooler, flood-proof, cleaner, and generally healthier.
However, green spaces have plenty more to give, and some benefits of city green areas can get overlooked.To present this in a more data-driven manner, Interiorbeat company has analyzed over 500 biggest US cities showing their green space and the closest distance people have to green. The data also highlights the development over the last 10 years, clearly showing which cities have positive, or negative development when it comes to promoting healthier living.
Let’s explore some of the maybe-forgotten known perks of green cities to value them more.
Big cities have a bad reputation of alienating us from each other because of the fast pace of living. However, a study done in the Netherlands shows that there is a strong relationship between the existence of green spaces in the neighborhoods and the amount of social cohesion. Simply put, parks and other green infrastructure in residential blocks facilitate the social bonding of neighbors – by providing meeting points and inspiring mutual engagement. The greater the amount of urbanization, the more significant green spaces become for local social interactions.
An interesting side effect of green space-induced social cohesion is that it creates a safer surrounding for the residents. That happens due to the so-called informal social control. By meeting and engaging within green spaces, the neighbors keep each other updated on recent developments in the area, including the info on local crime or other risks. Also, any novel problematic factors are easier to spot.
Green support for business
The Biophilia hypothesis suggests “that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.” Although we tend to see the business world as cold and sterile, the truth is that city greenery adds to the area’s attractiveness, making it more alluring for setting up and doing business. Also, it has long been determined that real estate surrounded in green has a higher value on the market.
Small local businesses also profit from green infrastructure by attracting potential customers and keeping them in the area longer. To illustrate this idea, here’s a simple question – on a summer day, would you spend more time shopping in the street market if there was no tree cover or in the comfortable shade of urban treelines?
The fact that green infrastructure in cities supports biodiversity is quite apparent, but most people are not aware of just how important it is.
Although we tend to think that nature thrives outside the city, unfortunately, recent changes such as intensive large-scale agriculture and rampant deforestation push plant and animal life out of their original habitats. The banished organisms often find refuge in the cities.
How these migrating animal populations will do in the cities depends on the existence and maintenance of urban green infrastructure. A love story between pollinators and green cities is a shining example of urban biodiversity support.
Wild and domesticated bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other pollinator insects are being pushed out of the rural areas. This pollinator exodus happened due to the dominance of monoculture crops and the related pesticide and herbicide use. Intensive land management rids the rural landscape of its natural flora – which happens to be food for pollinators.
However, the plant diversity of city parks, gardens, and balconies provide these beneficial insects with plenty of nectar and pollen throughout the year. That way, urban plant life becomes a part of the crucial pollinator corridors or pathways.
Besides the conservation itself, having a city teeming with life is an excellent educational opportunity for its residents. For example, the quality of teaching subjects such as biology and other sciences is significantly enhanced if there is an opportunity for outdoor classes.
We listed just some of the slightly forgotten benefits of urban green spaces, but there are more. As the world changes and makes its way towards the green transition, we may discover even more green gains.
One thing is sure – for city dwellers, urban green spaces just keep giving.