We need trees...
... 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
- "Cities need 'hedges as well as trees' for environment", BBC, May 2017 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39943197
- "There is a long history behind the carbon-absorbing leaves and branches that shade our pavements", The Guardian, 13/5/17, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/13/plane-trees-london-monuments-city-life-shade-carbon-pavements
- "City trees are under increased threat but research tools show that looking after them will lower temperatures, prevent flooding and reduce pollution" The Guardian, 28/3/17 https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/mar/28/stressed-street-trees-mapping-the-urban-forests-to-save-them-and-us
- Can you prescribe nature? BBC News, July 2015
- London's air pollution 'is making thousands more people die early each year', Evening Standard, July 2015
- Caroline Russell: Trees are as crucial to how London works as trains and drains, Evening Standard, June 2016
- Wikipedia introduction to eco-system services: "Humankind benefits in a multitude of ways from ecosystems. Collectively, these benefits are becoming known as ecosystem services… the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) in the early 2000s grouped ecosystem services into four broad categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; and cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits. To help inform decision-makers, many ecosystem services are being assigned economic values."
- Ecological Society of America fact sheet on ecosystem services
- What nature can do for you: a practical introduction to making the most of natural services, assets and resources in policy and decision making from DEFRA
- UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) "the first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and our continuing economic prosperity."
- BBC programme demonstrates how quite small trees can reduce the amount of pollution in homes on a busy road. Michael Mosley and surgeon Gabriel Weston help test a new pollution filter developed by Professor Barbara Maher at the University of Lancaster: silver birch trees.
- London trees: new research by scientists at the University of Southampton has shown how London’s trees can improve air quality by filtering out pollution particulates, which are damaging to human health.
- 22 reasons to plant and care for trees or defend a tree’s standing
- Street trees: residents report feeling better and having fewer health problems when there are more trees on their street, a new study has found. An online health survey of 31,109 residents living in the Canadian city of Toronto was combined with high-resolution satellite imagery and tree data. Also reported at http://www.treehugger.com/economics/living-tree-lined-streets-makes-you-young-thin-and-rich.html
- People love trees: the city of Melbourne assigned trees email addresses so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees.
- How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain
- Nature, the original National Health Service blog
- NASA explains why you should live on a tree-lined street...
- Michael McCarthy in The Independent on the value of nature (and how wind farms can undermine it) - right on the former, less so on the latter?: "... contact with nature, even if only visual, clearly had a real, empirical effect on people’s physical and mental states. The natural world is good for us..."
- On World Mental Health Day (10th October 2015) Nigel Doar looks at the links between human health and wellbeing and the natural world, and what The Wildlife Trusts are doing to help us understand our relationship to nature...
- On the value of gardening and allotments for health and wellbeing: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/gardening-can-help-improve-self-esteem-calm-anger-and-ease-depression-new-study-finds-a6714401.html and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34666231?SThisFB
- "Introducing 'treeconomics': how street trees can save our cities", The Guardian, August 2015
- Why we should plant more urban trees, Daily Telegraph, November 2015
- The London iTree urban forest report, published in December 2015, demonstrates the enormous value attributed to the benefits that London’s trees provide. A pdf copy of the report (6MB) can be downloaded.
- Green Infrastructure Task Force report, published 9 December 2015 - see https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/environment-publications/green-infrastructure-task-force-report
- "Why your GP may be recommending a dose of the great outdoors in 2016 - 'Green prescriptions' are common in other countries – and research suggests they can be more effective than drugs", Independent, 27 December 2015
- Trees can help UK farming cut emissions, says study
- "When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor." National Geographic, Jan 2016
- Benjamin Zephaniah's poem for the Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees, Woods and People
- "Feel better outside, feel betterinside" (Mind report, 2007) http://www.mind.org.uk/media/336359/Feel-better-outside-feel-better-inside-report.pdf
- Ecotherapy (Mind) http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/ecotherapy/#.Vsw92__cvcs
"Great Outdoors: How Our Natural Health Service Uses Green Space To Improve Wellbeing"http://www.fph.org.uk/uploads/bs_great_outdoors.pdf
Economic benefits of greenspace (Forestry Commisision research report, 2012) http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/FCRP021.pdf/$FILE/FCRP021.pdf
The real value of public parks (CABE) http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/resources/report/real-value-public-parks
"The Charter for Trees, Woods and People aims to reconnect people with trees and woods around them. It’s vital that we do so, as these startling statistics demonstrate...." http://www.theguardian.com/tree-charter/2016/jan/15/the-facts-and-figures-that-show-we-need-to-save-our-woods
"Urban Trees Enhance Children’s Brains, Too" http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/09/urban-trees-enhance-childrens-brains-too/404089/?utm_source=SFTwitter
- CPRE report, published in March 2016 at http://www.cprelondon.org.uk/resources/item/2319-the-strongest-protection, highlights threats to London's Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land and what Londoners stand to lose.
"The (Pretty Much Totally) Complete Health Case for Urban Nature, An annotated, chart-filled look at the scientific evidence"
"Having a nice garden could save your life, study suggests: 'We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates,' expert says"
- LFN useful facts and figures - http://e-voice.org.uk/london-friends-network/a/9540940-18860025
- Cities will need trees to keep them cool: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lauriewinkless/2016/04/25/tomorrows-cities-need-trees/#229395cb2b73
- Why more cities need to add up the economic value of trees - https://theconversation.com/why-more-cities-need-to-add-up-the-economic-value-of-trees-57928
- Woodland Trust - the benefits of trees - http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/why-plant-trees/
- Engineering News on the value of urban forest - https://sourceable.net/growing-the-urban-forest/
Trees Are Heroes: They Save Hundreds Of Lives A Year - In 2010, America's pollution-sucking powerhouses saved an estimated 850 lives and prevented about 670,000 cases of severe respiratory problems - http://www.fastcoexist.com/3033675/trees-are-heroes-they-save-hundreds-of-lives-a-year.
How millions of trees brought a broken landscape back to life, item on the National Forest in the Midlands, August 2016 - https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/07/national-forest-woodland-midlands-regeneration
- "Cherish our public spaces", Observer, 28/8/16 - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/27/defend-public-spaces-national-local-parks
- 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/