Friday, 22 January 2010

Public Planting: Eureka - The Very Thing!


Eureka! At last I've found just the kind of document I've been searching for :)
I've been looking for an overview setting the context of why public planting is important, preferably backed up with references to research results which clearly demonstrate the benefits we all know in our hearts to be there. The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) have done just that, in a clear and concise manner to boot as part of their Plant for Life campaign, particularly in the Greener Planning part of their website.

Their recent report Greener Planning, Greener UK, shows there's been a 50% decline in planting and green spaces delivered in new building schemes. Of course some of this is because we're now packing our houses more densely onto the land available, but the report also says developers are failing to deliver on planting commitments outlined at the planning approval stage. Just over two thirds of councillors surveyed have seen this happen, with nearly a quarter of them saying it's been a frequent or very frequent occurrence.

Whilst I'm depressed - but not surprised - by that finding, I'm cheered that nearly everyone asked (93%) would like to see some of our Lottery cash being spent on public parks, thus showing we all care about our green spaces, not just readers of this blog! Most of the report focuses on making the case for ensuring future planning decisions fully embrace the need for green spaces, in the language that local authorities will understand. Don't worry, the report is a good read for everyone and is relatively short. It's also a useful document for looking at our existing public planting and provides a useful guide (with some key questions to ask) for anyone wanting to urge their local council to do better.

Here's just a few of the benefits research has shown our green spaces provide:
  • Significant reductions in stress and anxiety within 5 minutes of viewing a green landscape
  • Hospital patients with a view of green space suffer less pain and recover more rapidly. Their need for medium to strong pain killing drugs can be reduced by 25%
  • A 10% increase in tree cover could negate the 4 degrees centigrade rise in temperature predicted over the next century
  • Plants and trees grown for shelter and shade can reduce the energy consumed by buildings by 20-40%
  • Providing green spaces around the workplace can help to reduce absence levels by 23%, reduce staff turnover and also attract higher calibre job applicants
  • Buildings set within well cared for green spaces suffer 32% fewer crimes
  • Attractive surroundings can increase property values by 5-7%
Impressive figures in themselves, but couched in more business orientated terms, the money we could save must be in the millions. Food for thought in these cash strapped times.

Those of you reading this across the pond (and elsewhere) will find the report useful reading, even though it's aimed at a UK audience. You may also like to have a look at the America in Bloom website (which also applies to anyone reading this post), where there's lots of resources for making the case for the benefits of plants. I'm particularly drawn to the report produced by the Philadelphia Parks Alliance showing that their parks have not only saved the city millions, they've also brought in an income of millions of dollars too.

I'll be creating a summary page to go up in my sidebar shortly with these useful links, including the CABE ones I told you about in my OOTS wrap-up a few days ago :)

4 comments:

  1. thanks for the links! reading for after finishing baby blanket--would think that by now i would realize that i need to add a week's lead-time for finishing a project!

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  2. Good ammunition to make your case, VP! Our local government, not the brightest bulbs BTW, are quite strict about commercial green plantings in proportion to the paved surface. New buidlings have an even stricter percentage, and it shows as we drive down the street. It is far from beautiful, but I can imagine what it would be like without these codes enforced.
    Frances

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  3. This is very interesting. Even if the report focuses only in the UK. It might be happening around the globe.Sometimes,being around buildings without any greens can make you feel like being choked up. It's also good to know that majority of the residents like that funds will be poured in public parks. Thank you for the information, VP. Keep them coming!-Gardeners Reach

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  4. Petoskystone - you're welcome. I hope you find them useful and that baby's now all snug and toasty!

    Frances - I wondered if that's what happens in the States. No wonder Karen's started Greenwalks then

    Grasshopper - welcome. Yes it's a global thing and I'm sure any campaign or best practice articles will be useful for everyone, irrespective of where they're reading it :)

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