Green is good...
GREEN IS GOOD...
March 2021 Presentation to Kingston Communities Covid Recovery Task Force, Marilyn Mason, KEF
- Benefits to public health of access to green spaces and nature include reduced stress, and improved mood [iii], physical [iv] [v] and mental health [vi] [vii], may even enhance children’s brains [viii] ...
- Covid-19 - for the past year a walk has been one of the few consistently permitted activities – and free! Many more people are out and about experiencing the benefits, but also putting pressure on green spaces in Kingston (which has less green space than many neighbouring boroughs[ix], and fairly unequal access – areas of deprivation[x] tend to have fewer gardens and less green space): more litter, more wear and tear and trampled wildlife areas, more dog and human faeces [xi]...
- Ecosystem services [xii] [xiii]: trees, grasses, hedges etc absorb noise and air pollution and CO2; and can provide natural flood defences, habitats and food for, e g, pollinators and birds, and shade and cooling in long hot summers... (Reminder: Kingston has declared a Climate Emergency.[xiv])
- Everyone can benefit - this is no longer an issue just for nature-lovers, and though it’s difficult to put an economic value on biodiversity (and diversity is important), it’s not impossible. [xv] There is potential for employment and volunteering in a green recovery, but “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
What can we do?
- Support and protect local green spaces: defend them from shrinkage and development (2 green sites of concern to KEF members are Seething Wells (a SINC At Risk) and part of Kingsmeadow where a new school is proposed), damage or over-manicuring or too much mowing; plant, protect and look after local trees, plant for wildlife and pollinators, rewild... And encourage green volunteering and reskilling for green jobs.
- Educate our networks: long grass, mature trees, “weeds” (aka wild flowers) are not signs of Council neglect - naturalisation and biodiversity benefit all of us. Spread the wo
- rd, share the info: learn to love untidiness, don’t complain about dandelions...![xvi]
- Lobby for more green space: everyone should have easy access to nature and green space.[xvii] Can we create more green spaces, biodiversity corridors and local nature reserves, including mini- ones on ro undabouts, traffic islands and verges?
Could some redundant offices or shops make way for mini-parks or green squares in our town centres[xviii] – or be redeveloped to provide much needed housing and reduce pressure on greener sites (a planning issue that can have negative or positive impacts on nature)?
NOTES 1. USEFUL RESOURCES
- Plantlife - http://www.plantlife.org.uk/
- The London Biodiversity Partnership’s Duty Bound? Biodiversity conservation in London boroughs
- Trees for Cities - https://www.treesforcities.org/
- March 2016 CPRE report, published 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.
- We need trees - https://e-voice.org.uk/greenerkingston/living-landscapes/we-need-trees/ - and Living Landscapes - https://e-voice.org.uk/greenerkingston/living-landscapes/living-landscapes-report/ - on Greener Kingston’s website, with links to other useful websites.
- Kingston Biodiversity Network - https://www.kingstonbiodiversitynetwork.org/
- The Climate Coalition report on the impacts of climate change on public health - https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/health-report
- The London Plan 2021 - https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/the_london_plan_2021.pdf - Chaptr 8 on Green Infrastructure
- The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review
- Parks for London - https://parksforlondon.org.uk/
- Thames Landscape Strategy - http://thames-landscape-strategy.org.uk/ - Rewilding Arcadia project
- Go Parks London borough maps of parks - https://www.goparks.london/boroughs/
- Green spaces aren’t just for nature – they boost our mental health too, New Scientist, March 2021 - https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24933270-800-green-spaces-arent-just-for-nature-they-boost-our-mental-health-too/#ixzz6qJfuTPjz
- Tree Council https://treecouncil.org.uk/
Rewild My Street provides guidance for people wishing to adapt their homes, gardens and streets to encourage wildlife - and stop cities going grey. https://www.rewildmystreet.org/
NOTES 2. REFERENCES (a small selection from the masses of available data, research, reports...)
[i] Environmental Audit Committee report on how to create a greener, healthier and more resilient economy - https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/62/environmental-audit-committee/news/139275/eac-calls-for-climate-and-nature-investment-to-be-prioritised-in-the-economic-recovery/
[ii] New research shows the need for urban green space - https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/new-research-shows-the-need-for-urban-green-space
[iii] Study: “Biological diversity evokes happiness. More bird species in their vicinity increase life satisfaction of Europeans as much as higher income” - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201204110246.htm and 5 Ways Being In Nature Changes Your Brain - https://www.bustle.com/p/5-ways-being-in-nature-changes-your-brain-according-to-science-15827469
[v] “Can you prescribe nature?” - BBC science item at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33368691
[vi]The effects of preferred natural stimuli on humans’ affective states, physiological stress and mental health, and the potential implications for well-being in captive animals, Misha Ross, Georgia J.Mason, University of Guelph, 2017 - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0149763417302361#!
Why Nature is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/why-nature
[vii] Research finds that greener front gardens can make you feel happier, more relaxed... - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/health-and-wellbeing/articles/greener-gardens-promote-healthier-residents
[ix] London Assembly green infrastructure maps and tools - https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/parks-green-spaces-and-biodiversity/green-infrastructure-maps-and-tools#acc-i-54391
[xi] These problems of overuse have come up at recent meetings of Kingston Biodiversity Network and the Canbury Gardens Working Party, but are not unique to Kingston, for ecample - https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/jan/30/excremental-growth-uk-sniffs-a-pandemic-puppy-poo-problem
[xii] UK National Ecosystem Assessment - http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/Home/tabid/38/Default.aspx
[xiii] Nature-based Solutions - https://www.naturebasedsolutionsinitiative.org/what-are-nature-based-solutions/
[xv] The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review
[xvi] Gardeners’ World’s Monty Don says excessively tidy lawns and incessant mowing can harm nature -
[xvii] A Tale of Two Cities: Or why urban green space matters - https://www.london.gov.uk/city-hall-blog/tale-two-cities-or-why-urban-green-space-matters
[xviii] Bold and creative proposals for redundant shopping centres in Nottinham:and Stockton-on-Tees: