In this post
- Green Spaces For Cities
- Urban Heat Jungles
- Water Quality
- Effects Of Green Spaces On Human Health
- How Can Green Spaces Be Created In Cities
As urbanization continues, the need for cleaner and greener spaces has been emphasized. Experts of urban planning and environmentalists alike have highlighted how the urban concrete jungles are unsustainable, and dwindling green spaces indicators of bad city health. In this blog we will outline the need for green spaces, and the ways to increase green to concrete ratio.
Green Spaces For Cities
Experts estimate that by the year 2050, 68% of the global population will live in cities. Researchers also estimate that nine million people die every year as a direct result of air pollution. As cities grow and more people move into already crowded spaces, there is a pressing need for transforming urban areas into healthy places to live. Therefore, geen spaces are integral for a city for a number of reasons.
Urban Heat Jungles
This effect appears in towns and cities as a result of concrete structures. These have a tendency of absorbing heat, and being unable to reflect it to the environment. This coupled with heat generated by people, transport, shops, and industry gets trapped and is unable to escape to the atmosphere, significantly raising the city’s temperatures. This can bring the temperature in urban areas up 3-4°C higher than the surrounding countryside, leading to a vicious cycle of increased demand for energy consumption. This causes higher fossil fuel consumption, leading to the release of pollutants in the air.
Higher temperatures contribute to heat-related deaths and heat-related illnesses such as respiratory difficulties, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and non-fatal heat stroke. Heat islands can also exacerbate the impact of naturally occurring heat waves, which are periods of abnormally hot, and often humid, weather. Sensitive populations, such as children, older adults, and those with existing health conditions, are particularly at risk during these events.
The prolonged presence of pollutants causes harmful smog which is an environmental menace, and hazardous to human health.
A case in point is Lahore’s smog which has proven to be hazardous not only for people’s health but for agriculture, as well as daily life. Haze halts transportation activities, thereby, affecting a chain of trading activities in the region.
For coastal cities or cities that are close to natural water bodies, higher temperatures can disturb aquatic ecosystems as well. This is a direct result of urban heat jungles. High temperatures of concrete surfaces heat up runoff stormwater, which when drains into storm sewers, raises water temperatures when it reaches streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes.
For marine life, water temperature determines their metabolism and reproduction, which can be significantly altered owing to rapid temperature changes in aquatic ecosystems. This can be fatal to aquatic life.
One study found that urban streams are hotter on average than streams in forested areas, and that temperatures in urban streams rose over 7°F during small storms due to heated runoff from urban materials. If temperatures rise higher than the meltwater, natural streams and lakes can also permanently dry up.
For these reasons, it is important to have green spaces in cities. Various cities’ development authorities have specified building plans of housing societies with allocated green spaces. These are important considerations that have to be made by the Municipal Town Planning Department to ensure a healthy, and sustainable city. Moreover, green spaces are essential for human health as well.
Effects Of Green Spaces On Human Health
Studies have shown that green spaces have profound effects on human health. People not only ‘feel’ better when surrounded by greenery, but it is a scientific proven fact that overall health of individuals improves. Studies have shown that cities with high numbers of parks battle obesity and diabetes. Recent studies in the Netherlands and Japan show that people with easy access to green space had better health and overall lower mortality rates. Even relatively passive contact with nature—such as viewing it from a window—lowers blood pressure and anxiety levels.
Moreover, scientists assert that green spaces increase our ability to concentrate, both on the tasks at hand and on our subconsciously-viewed surroundings. As people feel better, and in most cases feel that their governments are taking good care of them, crime rates also significantly reduce. A study conducted in Chicago, USA analyzed 98 vegetated and un-vegetated apartment buildings. The results showed that vegetated spaces cut crime by half, in addition to less litter and less graffiti. Moreover, it showed that green spaces invite neighbors to get together and creates a sense of belonging amongst them.
Now that we have established the importance of green spaces for environmental upkeep as well as human health, here are simple ways of increasing vegetation in cities.
How Can Green Spaces Be Created In Cities
Green spaces can be created by developing parks within each housing society, planting trees along roads, especially those considered the busiest, as well as leaving open ‘conserved’ places in cities where local species of trees can be planted. No unauthorised people should be allowed to venture out in the conserved or protected areas as saplings planted here can grow up to be dense forests in the future.
Town Municipal Authorities (TMAs) should also ensure that in cities with a higher population, and a greater number of infrastructural projects, there is an equi-proportion land under green cover. It is also essential that environmentalists research and plant those varieties of trees that are of that particular area, rather than planting species that might not be suitable. TMAs can also engage with the youth and host regular plantation drives. In this way, the citizens will also feel included and will be apprised of the importance of green spaces in their cities.
One important example to cite in this regard is Singapore, which is also known as “Garden City.” Even high-rises in Singapore are supposed to integrate plants in their layouts. It’s not uncommon to see vertical gardens—climbers covering walls of buildings—and green roofs in apartment complexes in the city-state. And Singapore keeps trying out new ways to reduce emissions and improve the air quality.
For example, in 2019, a company called GWS Living Arts launched ‘Garden on the Move,’ a campaign that involved installing green roofs on 10 public buses. The initiative aimed to study if greenery can help lower the temperature inside the buses. Another case in point is the popular Green Mark Scheme, according to which 80% of buildings in Singapore have to turn green by 2030. And let’s not forget the city’s Gardens by the Bay, the 101-hectare park, which comprises “supertrees,” 16-storey-tall man-made trees and over a million plants.
Do you host regular plantation drives in your cities? Let us know by writing to us at email@example.com. Also, keep checking Pakistan’s largest property blog, Zameen Blog, for the latest on Pakistan’s property.