What is the value of an urban park to the community? And why should we really care?
A few years ago, a local property developer posed the question: do we have too many parks, trees and reserves in urban areas? His perspective was that Sydney has too much ‘green’ and not enough ‘grey’. Read article here.
So, does green space have a value?
A recent editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald started to argue the case well…
The editorial argues strongly about the inherent value of parks and green space to our city, and touches a little on some of the benefits that parks and green space can bring to our lives. Let’s look a bit more at these.
The value of parks and green space
In this document called: The Value of Parks starts by setting the scene:
The value of urban parks will only increase as we head towards a future destined for significant challenges. In the first three decades of the 21st century the world’s urban population is predicted to rise from 2.9 billion to 5 billion. The demands of this huge population increase – resources for construction, water, fuel, food and fibre – will place the world’s ecosystems under tremendous pressures, exacerbated by climate change.
We are already witnessing unprecedented loss of biodiversity and failing of the natural systems that support life on Earth. Parks protect and conserve biodiversity. They play a vital role in keeping our air and water clean and providing essential services to farming. Parks offer refuges for threatened species and buffers against the impacts of climate change.
The document then looks more specifically at local and personal benefits:
Local, regional and state economies benefit significantly from parks. They are a major drawcard for the recreation and tourism industries, and significant sources of employment for local communities and of flow-on economic benefits.
Parks are inspiring and pleasant places to exercise and improve physical and mental well-being for today’s sedentary society that is more vulnerable to stress, mental health issues and obesity than ever before. Parks are venues for community sporting activities and places to meet and celebrate with family and friends.
Parks are the scene of excitement, refreshment, relaxation and solitude. They have been a part of our culture for hundreds of years. To the Indigenous people of Australia and New Zealand many parks represent a profound spiritual link to the land. Parks managed by Indigenous peoples can engender improved social and economic outcomes for their communities.
Strategies for ensuring the long-term survival of humanity must include large, healthy park systems across the world. Australia and New Zealand have the capacity to play their part in building and maintaining these systems.
Only by strengthening our system of protected areas, establishing more urban green spaces and increasing our knowledge and communication of the benefits that parks bring, will we have the capacity to respond to the challenges before us.
Let’s not take our green spaces for granted. Their value is immeasurable…to you!