Green Spaces and Climate Change

Research has shown that cities with well-maintained green spaces are more sustainable and have citizens that are happier and healthier. But what exactly are green spaces and why are they so important? 

A green space is an umbrella term that refers to an open area such as a park, sports field, nature reserve, forested area, and natural meadow,that have been integrated into our built environment. They are rich in biodiversity as they are home to numerous animals and plants that would not normally exist in the built urban environment.Green spaces represent a fundamental component of any urban ecosystem to maintain various ecological, health-promoting, aesthetic, and recreational functions. 

For example, treesin green spaces help filter out harmful air pollutants and airborne particulates to keep our air clean. They also have aesthetic and recreational values. Green spaces serve as sites for social interactions and help build positive attitudes among people. They contribute positively to people’s physical and mental health by helping toreduce stress, anxiety and depression.Some cities have even transformed green spaces into gardens, where members of the local community can spend time planting and tending to vegetables and congregating and developing relationships with fellow gardeners. This is all in addition to harvesting the food they have grown. 

Trees and shrubs in green spaces contribute to climate change mitigation by capturing carbon dioxide, one of the major greenhouse gas emissions. Through shading buildings and people, trees keep the urban areas cooler by dissipating the heat accumulated in landlocked urban settings. Placed strategically around buildings, they can reduce sun and heat exposure during the day and reduce winds. 

Maintaining andutilizing green spaces and promoting plant diversity within them is important for communities seeking to reduce their footprint and enhance their resilience to climate change. Effective participation and involvement of everyone in the community is critical to maintaining these green spaces and reaping the associated benefits.

The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg and Sam Gauthier) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca. For more information about the project, contact us using this form, or, via email at lvasseur@brocku.ca

Photo caption: An example of a green space in the Town of Lincoln is Charles Daley Park.