People living in cities so often get ‘concrete fatigue’ that the need for urban greenspaces is growing. Locating an ideal area close to where they live has gotten easier with Greenspace. Greenspace Scotland has recently gathered data about parks, play areas, playing fields and gardens from 32 local authorities all over the country.
They have made this information available online, making Scotland the first country in the world to map its green space. Greenspace Scotland is a charitable organisation and the project is funded with support from the Scottish government, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Forestry Commission Scotland. This is an important project, not only to get an idea of the amount of greenspaces but also to help improve urban planning.
Back in 2007, the Scottish government released a report Scottish Planning Policy (SPP11) Open space and Physical Activity that required local authorities to undertake an audit of their own open space and produce an open space strategy. An open space audit consists of two key elements – a quantitative audit of the amount and type of open space as well as an assessment of the quality and community value of the open space. Greenspace provides the information required for the quantitative element of an open space audit
The results show that Scotland has 1112 sq km (429 sq miles) of urban green space. The project uses a variety of techniques like Geographical Information System (GIS) based map to provide comprehensive information on the location, extent and type of greenspace across all of Scotland’s urban settlements. The mapa produced using local datasets, GIS maps and aerial photography. These were then catergorized into 23 different open space types including public parks, play areas, allotments, amenity greenspace and private gardens. This data was again filtered down to multi-functional greenspaces like play areas within public parks.
Urban greenspaces add distinct character to many cities – what would Manhattan be without Central Park? In addition, they also provide very important areas for recreation as well as an urban habitat for many species. The Kelvingrove Park in the West End of Glasgow, for example is home to many birds like the grey heron, cormorant, kingfisher, mallard and goosander. The 85 acre park also contains animals (including the red fox, brown rat and otter species) as well as many species of trees and flowering plants. This flora and fauna creates a mini-ecosystem within the city. With all its greenery, the park provides an ideal urban oasis to enjoy the outdoors.
There are numerous studies that show that people who have regular access to outdoor activity are healthier. This exposure is especially beneficial to young children. Scotland has always boasted incredibly natural beauty and it is heartening to note that they are leading the way in mapping the urban greenery its cities have to offer.
Image Credit: Akhila Vijayaraghavan © Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Scotland.