A town’s liveability is directly related to the amount of good quality green spaces available to its citizens. This is not just green expanses of playing fields, but connected easily accessible green spaces with multiple uses that offer many positive outcomes for a town’s population.
Benefits of green spaces include:
- Improved mental health of citizens and a reduction in crime.
- Improved sense of wellbeing. For example, in Toronto, Canada, people who lived on tree lined streets had less sick days and reported health benefits equivalent to being 7 years younger.
- Improved physical health because of increased activity.
- Economic benefits of increased property values around green spaces, and the town being a more desirable place to reside.
- Amelioration of the effects of climate change. Towns are generally several degrees hotter than surrounding areas due to heat retention in hard surfaces. Not only are towns hotter during the day they take longer to cool at night causing adverse health and economic effects. Green vegetated areas with a canopy of trees keep the towns cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
- Green spaces trap dust and clean the air.
- Provision of habitats for birds and beneficial insects enhances the town’s environment.
- Carbon sequestration in trees and lowering groundwater levels are services provided by green spaces.
Katanning faces a challenge providing the benefits of good multi-use green spaces.Parks, natural areas and gardens are greatly enhanced by incorporating water as streams, ponds, waterfalls, retention basins, and reed beds.
Katanning’s climate doesn’t provide a year long supply of water to maintain water in green spaces, but storm water and recycled water can be used in a continuous loop throughout the system as long as the water bodies are protected by vegetation.
Stormwater harvesting from streets, obtained by intercepting the water before it enters the below ground system, will enable attractive Water Sensitive Urban Design to transform Katanning to a greener, healthier town. (See: http://katanninglandcare.org.au/?p=532)
Of course, these principles apply to most any town, anywhere.
How liveable and green is your community?
Author: Bev Lockley
Bev is an Australian native plants specialist, with a particular focus on the unique flora of the arid region of the Great Southern and Wheatbelt. Bev is a community activist, amazing teacher, and the initiator and driving force behind the Friends of Piesse Lake and the Katanning Propagators Group.