Category:

Greenspace / Human Health

CHILDREN’S AFFILIATIONS WITH NATURE: Structure, Development, and the Problem of Environmental Generational Amnesia – studies by Peter Kahn, Professor of Psychology at University of Washington, describe why each generation regards a progressively poorer natural world as normal


How do children reason about environmental problems? Are there universal features in children’s environmental conceptions and values? How important is it that children and young adults experience natural wonders? Finally, what happens to children’s environmental commitments and sensibilities when they grow up in environmentally degraded conditions? The foregoing are questions that are addressed by Peter Kahn in his research into environmental moral conceptions and values. “My research findings articulate what may be one of the most pressing and unrecognized problems of our age – the problem of environmental generational amnesia,” wrote Peter Kahn.

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WHAT IS NEEDED TO THRIVE IN THE 21st CENTURY: When nature is used as a classroom, it has a positive effect on learning among children in at least eight different ways, according to a new survey of 100s of research studies


“It is time to take nature seriously as a resource for learning. In fact, the trend of increasing indoor instruction in hopes of maximizing standardized test performance may be doing more harm than good,” states Professor Frances ‘Ming’ Kuo. “We found strong evidence that time in nature has a rejuvenating effect on attention; relieves stress; boosts self-discipline; increases physical activity and fitness; and promotes student self-motivation, enjoyment, and engagement. And all of these have been shown to improve learning.”

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TIME IN NATURE LOWERS STRESS: “Healthcare practitioners can use our results as an evidence-based rule of thumb on what to put in a nature-pill prescription,” stated Professor MaryCarolHunter, research lead at University of Michigan


“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says MaryCarolHunter. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature. It provides the first estimates of how nature experiences impact stress levels.”

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Bringing Nature Back to the Urban Core – a photo feature on three US cities that are seeking to restore their connection to nature by reclaiming land for green space


Frederick Law Olmsted understood nature’s ability to rejuvenate the mind and body. One of the principal designers of Central Park in New York, he took pains to replicate the gentle beauty he saw in European parks that blended trees and shrubs, streams and bridges. “The park throughout is a single work of art,” he wrote. The relationship between humans and nature improves mental health and promotes prosocial behavior. But as cities grow, green space is squeezed out. Community leaders are finding ways to restore some of the balance.

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INSPIRED BY STEFANO BOERI’S VISION FOR “FOREST CITIES”: Toronto’s Newest Skyscaper Will Be Completely Covered In Trees


Toronto’s urban canopy is already home to over 10 million trees, which currently envelops 26% of the city’s surface area. Mayor John Tory, however, has bigger plans for Ontario’s capital; he wants to transform Toronto into a waking ecological metropolis. A local architecture firm is helping Tory achieve his goal, in a very cool, but unconventional manner. Toronto’s version of the vertical forest may be standing as early as late 2020, proving that green space is not confined to the ground.

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THE ECONOMY REALLY NEEDS MORE TREES BECAUSE: “There’s growing recognition of the crucial role of urban green spaces in helping reduce chronic, non-communicable physical and mental health problems,” wrote Ross Gittins, Economics Editor for the Sydney Morning Herald


“Academics at the universities of Melbourne and Tasmania examined 2.2 million messages on Twitter and found that tweets made from parks contained more positive content – and less negativity – than tweets coming from built-up areas,” wrote Ross Gittins. “Why are people in parks likely to be happier? Because parks help them to recover from the stress and mental strain of living in cities, and provide a place to exercise, meet other people or attend special events.”

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Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature: “We aim to find out more about how Sheffield’s natural environment can improve the health & wellbeing of city residents” – Dr Anna Jorgensen, Lead Researcher


“My research interests focus around the ways in which different people experience, interact with, understand and represent landscape; and the desire to see a more holistic and environmentally friendly approach to planning and designing urban greenspace and green structure,” stated Anna Jorgensen. “My aim is often to challenge professional ideas about what might be publicly acceptable, and to test/explore established theoretical frameworks from different academic disciplines that are relevant to my field of enquiry.”

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Kus-kus-sum Restoration on the Courtenay River on Vancouver Island: K’omoks First Nation, City of Courtenay and Project Watershed Make History for Greener Planet


“Restoring this cultural and historically significant site is a vision KFN shares with Project Watershed and the City of Courtenay. KFN’s interest in the site is largely based on its strong cultural significance,” stated Chief Councillor Nicole Remple, K’omoks First Nation. “Being stewards of the lands and waters, it is inherently our duty to restore and assist in the rehabilitation of the natural habitat of the salmon and various marine and wildlife in this area. It is our hope for the future that our skilled Guardian Watchmen participate in the restoration and maintenance of the site for our future generations.”

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“Urban foresters, planners and decision-makers need to understand trends in urban forests so they can develop and maintain sufficient levels of tree cover – and the accompanying forest benefits – for current and future generations of citizens,” stated David Nowak, lead author for research undertaken by US Forest Service


The study builds on a finding that was identified by David Nowak and co-author Eric Greenfield in a ground-breaking 2012 study that found 17 out of 20 American cities had experienced significant tree loss. Nowak is worried about what will happen if the trend continues. “If it keeps going down, I think we’re going to be in trouble. Cities will warm up, we might have more pollution, people will be more unhealthy,” he said. There is robust evidence to suggest that trees are good for public health.

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DESIGN WITH NATURE: Top Ten Cities in USA are Integrating Nature & Technology – a new report (2017) by Anil Ahuja, Smart Cities Guru


Smart Cities Guru founder Anil Ahuja has compiled a list of the top U.S. cities — from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles — that have found a way to combine technology and nature. “The challenge is to raise the bar for designing net zero living while enjoying and protecting the natural world. Water, Energy, Health, Equity and Beauty can all be protected and integrated through constructive implementation of technology,” wrote Anil Ahuja.

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