As the global population steadily increases it becomes significantly more likely that at some point most of us will end up living in a busy, urban area. Often grey and a bit gloomy, cities can feel close and claustrophobic leaving you craving fresh air under a green canopy. It always feels good to get out of the city but the benefit of green spaces might go beyond placebo.
By 2030, urban areas could provide a home for 60% of the world’s population with one in three people living in a city housing over half a million inhabitants, according to the United Nations. An increase in population density means that green spaces are often sacrificed to build more homes making cityscapes even more uninviting and widening the gulf between rural and urban living.
It might not just be aesthetics that suffer when green spaces are removed. In seeking a solution to pollution smog and rising temperatures, scientists are increasingly finding that plants and trees could provide answers to the problem of creating more sustainable cities. Urban living of the future could see us attempting to regreen environments by using unconventional means like green walls and roof gardens. Instead of treating the rural and urban as vastly different environments, our relationship with where we live needs to change to blur these artificial boundaries.
It’s no secret that walking in the fresh air surrounded by greenery certainly makes us feel better but there is also scientific evidence that it is measurable good for our physical health. Research from the University of East Anglia found that having access to green spaces can reduce your risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress and high blood pressure. This is pretty significant for global health as more than one of these illnesses can be found on the World Health Organisation’s top 10 causes of death.