... and parks, green open spaces, plants of all kinds

Some people just don't like trees - they drop sticky stuff onto their cars and windows, their leaves block gutters and drains and have to be swept up - and they call wild flowers "weeds" and think long grass is untidy.

But there is a great deal of information about the benefits of greenery - gardens, parks, plants, trees - to a place like Kingston, not just to wildlife but to us and our children, providing attractive spaces for exercise, leisure and play, contributing to our physical and mental health.

Greenery is not just beautiful, like these plane trees in Canbury Gardens, Kingston -  it provides all kinds of "eco-system services": for example, plants clean the air and encourage pollinating insects; trees can reduce the impacts of noise and pollution from traffic; green spaces can provide sustainable drainage and avert flooding...

And if we like birds and butterflies, we have to protect the greenery that supports them and other wildlife. 


Green spaces and their importance for health and wellbeing
British Academy "Where we live now" 

“Green spaces may be ‘natural’ landscapes or managed green settings such as parks or community gardens/allotments. Their material benefits for our health and wellbeing is evident in research showing that they provide ‘green lungs’ in urban areas, reducing the impacts of air pollution and help to mitigate the impacts of extreme heat or flooding that are now occurring more frequently under conditions of climate change. Green spaces that are well managed and designed can provide opportunities for healthy physical activity. A growing body of research also shows how important access to green space, and activities like gardening, can be for mental health and sense of wellbeing Some of this research comes from intensive studies in particular green spaces, helping us to understand just how and why green space is important for us, and underlining the importance of individual reactions to green settings. (For example, for some people, woodland spaces can seem intimidating rather than attractive .) Another strength of geographical research is the potential to use geographical information systems to examine data for many small areas and large populations. Across large numbers of people and places we can measure the strength of the positive link between proximity to green space and better health. For example, recent research shows that the differences in health associated with socio-economic inequality are less extreme in populations with good access to green spaces. This raises the possibility that green spaces may help to offset the damaging health impact of growing inequalities in wealth in countries like the UK.” 


 More on the value of trees and other greenery

Useful organisations

  • Kingston Biodiversity Network: "a network passionate about Kingston’s wildlife, aiming to establish strong links between organisations and people who are interested in conserving and preserving the biodiversity of the borough. We are helping to design documentation including habitat management plans, drawing upon local expertise and previous research, as well as carrying out our own surveys to build a picture of Kingston’s functioning ecosystems."
  • Open Spaces Society: "...helping our members protect their local common land, town and village greens, open spaces and public paths, and answering their queries..."  
  • Fields in Trust: "We protect vital open spaces all across the UK From sports pitches to children’s playgrounds, bicycle trails to country parks we make sure that all kinds of outdoor spaces are safeguarded forever."
  • The Mayor's Biodiversity Strategy "Connecting with London's nature" (the GLA might be useful when the local council is not)
  • London Parks and Green Spaces Forum: "Committed to London’s parks and open spaces - where there will shortly be campaign case studies and other useful campaign guidance
  • London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network: "the network for the 500+ local Friends Groups and borough-wide Friends Forums for public green spaces across London. We share information, good practices and work to ensure parks and green spaces are adequately resourced. We also actively promote the development of strong Friends Forums for every London borough."
  • London Wildlife Trust: "the only charity dedicated solely to protecting the capital's wildlife and wild spaces, engaging London's diverse communities through access to our nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and education"
  • Greater London National City Park: Could Greater London be a National Park? Kingston is one of the London boroughs supporting the concept of a Greater London National Park that would be the world’s first urban national park encompassing an entire city. The park would be unique in recognising the value of its urban habitat, celebrating its beauty, wildlife, built environment and cultural heritage. Today, London covers 1,572 km² and is shared by over 8 million resident people and over 13,000 species of wildlife.
  • Trees for Cities: "We plant trees in streets, housing estates, schools and parks. We grow stronger neighbourhoods, enhance urban landscapes and improve health and happiness."
  • The Conservation Foundation supports various community gardening projects, e g by recycling tools http://www.conservationfoundation.co.uk/