Green is good...

GREEN IS GOOD...

March 2021 Presentation to Kingston Communities Covid Recovery Task Force, Marilyn Mason, KEF

We need green, and more of it - why? [i] [ii]

  • 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

 

NOTES 2. REFERENCES (a small selection from the masses of available data, research, reports...)

[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

[iv] “Research has shown that patient recovery rates improve even if they can only view trees from their hospital window…” - https://nhsforest.org/evidence-benefits

[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
https://www.wwt.org.uk/news-and-stories/news/a-new-project-has-been-announced-today-to-improve-peoples-mental-health-through-connecting-to-watery-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

[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

[xvi] Gardeners’ World’s Monty Don says excessively tidy lawns and incessant mowing can harm nature -

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/gardeners-worlds-monty-don-excessively-tidy-lawns-harmful-nature-904180