The Importance of Green Public Spaces
Author: Hasmukh Chand
Urban planners have traditionally treated green spaces for their utilitarian functions. The odd soccer field here. A small park with a children’s play set there. Some minor facilities for the outdoor picnic elsewhere. With urban populations increasing and skylines becoming dominated by high-rise buildings, public green spaces are now being treated as a place of refuge. A place where local flora and fauna can thrive but also a place where we can unwind, disconnect and recharge our mind, body and spirit.
Since 2011 research by Planet Ark and sponsored by Toyota has recognised the numerous benefits of public spaces on our health and wellbeing. Most strikingly, the research has found that children and young adults are the ones who gain the most from time spent outdoors surrounded by a healthy and vibrant environment. Some of the key findings of Planet Ark’s research include;
- Children who grow up spending time outdoors grow up to be happier adults
- Time spent in nature reduces stress and increases creativity and problem solving
- People working close to parks and green offices have higher productivity and concentration
- Trees perform a range of ecosystem functions such as providing shade and purifying the air
Simply put, trees are invaluable. In recognition of the positive impacts public green spaces have on people, cities like Sydney are adopting policies with a focus on natural habitats. And it is councils that have been leading the charge, bringing the sights, sounds and colour of nature back into our cities and suburbs. This is why places like Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens, which is celebrating its 200th year with the largest interior green wall in the Southern Hemisphere as well as Barangaroo Park have become really popular havens. Council support has also been critical in establishing vertical gardens, such as at One Central Park and roofs being turned into public green spaces (eg, the Burnley Demonstration Green Roof at the University of Melbourne’s Burnley Campus).
Planet Ark’s National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day campaign has been at the forefront of greening Australia’s public spaces over the past 20 years. On the 29th of July this year, students at pre-K, primary and secondary schools will be participating in greening their school grounds. On Sunday 31st, it will be the public’s turn to roll up their sleeves and dig in and plant trees in their local areas. Tree Day is a fantastic opportunity for the local community and the local council to come together and make a lasting impact on the environment.
Interested in becoming part of Australia’s largest nature care activity? Register here
Hasmukh joined Planet Ark to support the National Tree Day campaign in 2016. He has a wealth of experience working with other great environmental organisations, as well as a degree in environmental science. Hasmukh also volunteers with the SES and continues to support other environment groups as a volunteer.