The green spaces in our communities provide a huge benefit. They provide beauty and soften the architectural lines of our buildings while providing beautiful spaces for people to enjoy. Green spaces entice people to get outside, be active and to commune with nature. Trees are really the foundation of any landscape planting and these spaces help make living in urban communities more pleasurable.
Urban forestry areas are really a diverse type of space ‑ valuable resourced that needs to be managed. We do not always look at green spaces and trees from a monetary perspective, but in actual fact, our green spaces are part of a large, diverse asset portfolio that requires the appropriate management to retain and improve its value over time. It is only within the last 10 years that urban areas are really beginning to document, assess and value their living assets like trees and other components of green spaces and in turn those people who work in these spaces.
Trees have the ability to make our world beautiful but they also provide us with many obvious benefits such as shade, privacy, shelter and food for birds and other small creatures, and even a place for childhood tree houses. They are a green oasis that gives us the ability to enjoy the space recreationally. Who doesn’t love to walk through a forested area? This act not only helps improve our physical health, but helps with our mental well-being. Studies have shown that spending two to five hours a week (30 minutes per day) improves blood pressure, stress levels and boosts the immune system. Thus, these forested areas are essential to our health and happiness.
Good planning and development of our green spaces gives urban residents the opportunity to have access to safe green spaces and to reconnect with nature. Those who live closer to green environments have a significantly reduced rate of death. For every 10 per cent increase in greenspace there is also a related significant increase in health. Green spaces increase physical activity which in turn reduces obesity. There is a significant decrease in stress which also improves both mental and physical health. Green spaces will also help to decrease urban noise which also benefits overall health.
Green spaces will significantly increase the property value of surrounding homes and businesses but they also serve many other functions in a community. Attractive and proper placement of softscape or living materials will actually make it easier for people to locate a business. The framework provided by trees and vegetation can serve as a form of focal point which enhances the buildings that are present.
Business districts that are adjacent to green spaces show an increase in customer satisfaction. When shopping, customers will actually spend more on individual items and will purchase more items as well. Employees and residents will both be happier in environments that have a view of green spaces and have shown to be more productive. Sick time by employees is also decreased.
There is a significant amount of energy conservation possible with properly planted trees and shrubs. They reduce the need to heat in the cooler seasons, if the buildings are sheltered from the wind by the landscape. In the warmer seasons, trees and vegetation that shade the buildings from the sun during the heat of the day will reduce the cooling needed for the comfort of those inhabiting the buildings.
Watch next week for more about the benefits of green spaces as we concentrate on that hidden value of trees we often overlook – carbon sequestration and perhaps one of the easiest solutions to slowing global warming.
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