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  Back to Blogs November 30 , 2019

Urban greening and its advantages

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There is a continuous demand to develop urban spaces as the population grows each day and more people move towards the larger cities for better economic opportunities. In the process of developing our cities, our green spaces are being destroyed. Without harming the dreams of people of excelling in their careers we need to adopt solutions like Urban Greening in order to ensure that our cities can sustain without causing total havoc to the environment.

We need to give equal importance to urban green spaces in order to build sustainable cities. It is not just a call to protect the environment but we also need to understand that widespread benefits of Urban Greening.

Air Quality

One of the primary benefits of urban greening is the improvement in air quality. With construction, increased vehicular traffic and several industrial and other processes releasing a host of particulate matter and toxins into the air, the only source of protection we have are trees. Aside from particulate matter, emissions from cars and industrial areas have sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful gases.

Recent research suggested that nearly 4 million people are killed worldwide due to air pollution. There are particular trees are good to reduce air pollution such as neem and moringa. Not just large trees but there are several specialized shrubs and plants that are known to purify the air. An acre of trees can absorb more 40,000 km worth of car emissions per year.

Economic

There is a better economic value to investing in urban spaces that can boast about greenery. Spaces with more greenery have seen house prices rise and also a higher demand for housing. Many hotels and commercial buildings who are opting to become LEED certified have also seen better rentals and higher occupancy than those who do not have these certifications with more people becoming conscious about reducing their carbon footprint.

For cities, the greener the city, the higher the chance of attracting tourists. While the exact spend and amount of urban greening are hard to determine, it should be understood that there is a long term benefit not just for the environment but the economy as well. Just urban greening without planning is not the way to go - urban greening is a strategic process and if done right it can do wonders for the economy.

Better Weather

Global warming and rising temperatures each summer are increasing the occurrence of heatwaves and reducing the chances of good rainfall. Studies have shown that urban greening the right way can help reduce the temperature by 1-2 degrees. Urban greening can help cities tackle these vagaries of weather. Increasing the number of trees also reduces the dependence on air-conditioning systems, which are also a major contributor to ambient heat.

Reduced Flooding

Urban spaces are concrete jungles that have hardly any space to allow for rainwater to percolate to reach the groundwater table. A large portion of the water is run off and wasted. This means during heavy rains the cities are more likely to get flooded. Areas with vegetation have natural drainage systems that reduce rainwater run-off thus preventing flooding.

If trees are planted in areas prone to landslides, then they can save the soil from being eroded and also help permeate the rainwater into the soil. Urban green areas can offset flooding danger and ensure that the groundwater table is also recharged in the rainy season. This is a more permanent process than artificial flood management systems that are expensive to construct and maintain.

Better Water quality

If more rainwater percolates and collects in the groundwater table then we will get better quality of water as the soil works as a natural filter. If we stop groundwater percolation then it is likely that the groundwater will become denser and minerals particularly salt thus making it unfit for household usage and drinking.

Health and Well-being

Green areas are known to promote physical activities and are known to be very important for the mental health of humans. It has been demonstrated that people’s stress levels reduce when they spend time outdoors in green spaces. There is a natural increase in physical activities like walking, running and cycling when there are green spaces surrounding a person’s place of work or home. With the rise in obesity and bad lifestyle habits, physical activity in a natural setting is extremely important for everyone.

Increased Biodiversity

When trees and plants make a comeback, they also bring back a host of small animals, birds and insects with them. The urban green spaces become corridors of life and help bring back natural species to the areas and also prevent extinction. The larger areas of greening bring back more animal species but even the simple green spaces in buildings help develop a strong bio-system.

Cities face a host of issues due to destructive insects like flys and mosquitoes. Their natural predators, small birds and amphibians have disappeared from the cities owing to the reduction in green spaces. But if we can bring back their natural enemies, we do not ever have to worry about being bothered by a buzzing mosquito.

Sustainable designs can be created for urban greening that does not sacrifice the ambitions of people but works side-by-side to ensure a sustainable, healthy and happy life.

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