Spreading Green - 5 Benefits of Urban Biodiversity
Monday 27th July 2020
As humans, it is believed that we have an innate tendency to connect with nature. This phenomenon is known as Biophilia, which literally means “love of life or living systems.”
However, as our global population grows, so do our cities. Increased urbanisation causes more people to inhabit cities and consequently disconnect with nature.
Fortunately, the principles of biophilia have not been forgotten. Many cities contain green spaces that aim to bring elements of nature into our concrete jungles. This is because it is proven that integrating green spaces can provide numerous benefits for our planet and its people.
Whether we live in forests or cities, it is important to foster biodiversity. Ensuring there is variety of species in our environment helps create rich and healthy ecosystems which support and enhance functions of daily human life.
Biodiversity doesn’t just exist in rural areas, but also in cities. We don’t always notice it as easily because in urban areas we need to make an extra effort to help it flourish.
Here are 5 benefits of urban biodiversity:
1) Combat Climate Change
Incorporating more green spaces and trees into our cities is a vital element to combat climate change.
Urban areas are comprised of hardscaped areas and high-rises that absorb heat and restrict the flow of air through the city. Coupled with high emissions of greenhouse gases, a microclimate is created in cities, making them hotter than surrounding rural areas. This is known as Urban Heat Island Effect.
Increasing green spaces in cities is an effective way to cool air temperature and combat Urban Heat Island Effect. Strategic placement of trees in urban areas can actually cool the air by 2 – 8 degrees Celsius.
However, as cities grow denser, we tend to build higher. For buildings and high-rises, incorporating green roofs and living walls is a practical solution to enhance biodiversity without taking up as much space as trees or parks.
Explore more about urban heat island effect:
2) Improve Air and Water Quality
Adding more greenery into our cities is an effective way to naturally improve air quality. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen which is then released into the air. In fact, just one tree can absorb 150kg of carbon dioxide per year.
Certain plants, such as Snake Plants and Aloe Vera, can also be incorporated indoors to help remove toxins from the air. Recent research by NASA revealed that certain houseplants can improve indoor air quality by removing 87% of toxins in just 24 hours.
And it’s not just air quality that’s improved by plants! Trees play a key role in regulating water flow and purifying our water sources. They act as ‘natural filters’ catching rainwater as it falls and then helping it soak into the soil and make land more fertile.
Furthermore, incorporating more trees or green roofs reduces stormwater runoff and decreases the risk of flooding, helping to keep our cities safer and healthier. Learn more about stormwater management in urban environments.
3) Enhance Biodiversity
The proportion of the planet characterised as ‘urban’ is set to triple between 2000 and 2030. As we increase the size of our built environment, unfortunately many plants and animals lose their natural habitat.
However, human survival is dependent on biodiversity. The diverse range of organisms that inhabit the planet are all interconnected and play their own unique role in our ecosystems. The eradication of one species can have knock on effects for other species and consequently damage whole ecosystems.
Green spaces in our cities act as a haven for biodiversity to thrive. Parks, trees, green roofs and plants can all provide food and shelter to numerous species, keeping our urban ecosystems rich and varied.
4) Support Health and Wellbeing
Spending more time in nature is proven to have a positive effect on our mental and physical health.
Research shows that city dwellers have a 20% higher chance of suffering from anxiety. Green spaces can act as a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. That’s why urban planners are finding ways to incorporate more greenery into city planning and design.
Biophilic design principles are based on mimicking natural elements to deliver their calming and restorative effects. In fact, one survey found that employees demonstrated a 15% increase in productivity when exposed to natural elements such as greenery and sunlight.
Incorporating living walls and green roofs into building design can provide occupants with many benefits. For example, green roofs can be used for urban farming to supply fresh and organic produce. Furthermore, they can be converted into multifunctional spaces with health and wellness amenities. Learn more about green roofs.
Then there are parks. Many cities incorporate large parks, such as Central Park in New York City or Hyde park in London, to bring balance to city life. Parks provide green spaces for exercise and relaxation while also acting as hubs of urban biodiversity that improve air and water quality.
5) Increased Economic Benefits
Apart from the social and environmental benefits, improving urban biodiversity can also offer economic benefits for city dwellers.
For building owners, green landscaping can increase their property value by 20%. Furthermore, shoppers have indicated that they would be willing to spend up to 12% for products in areas with attractive green landscaping.
For occupants, the shading provided by just four trees can save 25% of the energy needed to cool a building. In regions with hot climates like the Middle East, electricity and cooling bills are extremely high. Incorporating more green spaces, such as green roofs, helps to save energy and money by reducing AC demands by up to 75%.
Here’s an overview of why we need urban biodiversity in our cities:
As we move towards creating safer and sustainable cities that put the health of human life first, it is evident that increasing urban biodiversity is an important factor.
Fortunately, there are many ways we can increase biodiversity in our cities. From planting trees to incorporating green roofs to constructing parks, city planners, governments and architects have the ability to exercise diverse choices and pick what that best suits the city’s function and inhabitants.
It’s only when we start supporting the creation of more green spaces that we can create cities that truly support human health and wellbeing.
To discuss solutions to go greener for your project, contact us today: