Over 50% of the global population live in urban dwellings. The United Nations predicts this number will climb to 70% by the middle of the century.
Therefore, urban sustainability is becoming a key priority to ensuring the continued growth of cities and urban spaces is not damaging to the future of the world.
Urban sustainability, when blended with city planning and design, goes deeper than landscape architecture and, instead focuses on creating greener spaces that recruit, nurture, and support nature.
So, what is green space? Formally defined, green space is any public or private land featuring natural elements within an urban area, including water. Types of open urban green spaces include parks, public and private gardens, riversides, allotments, and green corridors with urban trees and vegetation.
Working towards Urban Sustainability with Green Spaces
Sustainability and eco-friendliness are key goals in the next decade and beyond and legislation, such as the upcoming Environment Bill is likely to reinforce these with practical goals.
Sustainable urban living offers a more productive, safer, sustainable alternative to chaotic urban areas undermined by poor air quality, noise pollution and undulating temperatures.
Landscaping impacts this by creating environments where plants can flourish if well-tended for. Air quality in urban areas dramatically improves with plants, as they absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen.
Practically, adding in foliage to otherwise bland spaces, and replacing traditional fences with hedgerows can all improve the urban green spaces and increase biodiversity by creating habitats for wildlife such as butterflies, newts and hedgehogs.
Those with access to available green urban spaces report feelings of wellbeing, are able to function better and enjoy their time more, an important consideration for both residential and commercial developments. The diversity of life outside of humans in the form of birds, insects and flowers brings much by way of mental breaks and connecting to inner peacefulness.
Implementing Urban Sustainability with Landscaping
In the 1990s, Singapore pledged to become what’s known as a ‘biophilic’ city. Singapore planned to reclaim green space, rewilding as many areas of the city as possible to create natural habitats and catalyse biodiversity. The incorporation of rooftop gardens, vertical green walls and urban plants have seen air pollution levels remain consistent since the turn of the decade and this supports more ambitious targets looking ahead.
By working with property developers and urban planners at the start of new projects for both residential and commercial landscaping, the industry can provide simple solutions to ongoing concerns around the removal of green belts and the subsequent environmental impact.
Landscaping can improve urban sustainability through initiatives such as:
- Adding in green aspects such as natural wildflower gardens, hedgerows and plan in for trees.
- Choosing Peat-Free soil and plant using domestic soils, rather than imported ones, or ones that haven’t been approved.
- Focusing on native and rare species that can be re-introduced, rather than those purely for decoration. A healthy blend of the two is needed in order to promote biodiversity.
Adam Brindle is the CEO and founder of Grounds Care Group, the leading specialist contractors in the UK for grounds maintenance, Japanese Knotweed removal, winter risk management and landscaping. Robust and reliable services that deliver value for money are at the core of Grounds Care Group, and the landscape contractors work across public sector, housing and construction industries to provide bespoke solutions with minimum impact on the surrounding environment.