|New York's Central Park - aerial view (image: thisisthestoryof.wordpress.com)|
Green spaces in urban environments are well known to offer a wide range of benefits for people and the environment. They offer an escape for city inhabitants away from their often tiring normal routines. One of the things I find most pleasing about living in London is the abundance of parks and reserves, making green space and a little bit of nature easily accessible from almost anywhere within the city's vast limits. In fact, in most cities I've lived or visited I've come to appreciate time spent in green space. An immediate benefit of green space apparent to me is space for recreation and leisure. Whether it be kayaking down London's Regent's Canal, a football game with mates after school at the local common, or a formal exercise session in the city centre for fitness enthusiasts; green spaces make the perfect venues. Green spaces also provide a place for relaxation and peacefulness, often comprising of tranquil ponds or lakes and beautiful gardens to explore. They contribute positively to the environment in areas such as climate change and biodiversity, and offer a place for wildlife to live and flora to grow, often including native or rare species. The flying foxes hanging from the tree tops in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and the grazing Deer in Richmond Park in London are particular favourite examples of mine. Personally, I have also found joy in the cultural and historical significance of particular green spaces, such as the haunting sculptures of artist Gustav Vigeland in Oslo, or the rich heritage of Greenwich Park in London.
|Regent's Canal, London. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.|
|Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park, Oslo. Greenwich Park, London.|
Pondering my love of green spaces, I cannot help but ponder also the future of these areas. With increasing populations and more people living in cities in the world than ever before, and increased demand for residential, commercial, and industrial space, will the amount of green space in our cities be compromised? Will their size, abundance, or diversity be reduced? Will we have to travel increasingly farther to get our nature fix? Will green spaces become restricted or will their maintenance become an issue? There are already many parks and reserves in London that charge an entry or usage fee. Will the effects of climate change have an impact? These thoughts do scare me a little, as I believe we should cherish and preserve our green spaces. They are an integral part of our cities and their benefits to society and the environment are plenty. So, go on, go enjoy some green space today.
Richmond Park, London.
Photos by Billy Haworth