What is the impact of plants on our cities?
Green spaces are now considered essential in towns and cities, and they're a big priority for town planners. A shining example of this is the London Environment Strategy, which aims to make 50% of London is green by 2050, with a 10% increase in tree canopy cover. Almost half of this green space is made up of gardens. Green surface cover is an important part of our response to the climate emergency and will help absorb carbon emissions and get closer to our national net zero 2050 target.
Bringing nature into cities is often associated with parks and public spaces, but gardens and private outdoor space also have an important role to play.
Here are 3 ways growing your own plants can benefit your local environment.
Adapting to Climate Change
Research proves that plants reduce local air temperate. This is increasingly important as heat waves become more frequent, compounded by the urban heat island effect: London can be up to 10 degrees warmer than rural areas. Climatic volatility is set to increase, so any natural defence against rising temperatures is a great idea. Trees, shrubs, and smaller plants in soil also absorb rainwater and prevent flooding.
41% of the U.K.'s species have declined since 1970, and urbanisation is a big driver of this. Cities often fragment natural spaces into small zones, so habitats become disconnected- and gardens can create important linkages. This is particularly important for bees. 90% of the world's flowers are dependent on pollinators, and planting flowers in your garden can help provide plant pollinator pathways, providing nutrition and habitat for pollinators who can then travel to other habitats.
Cities are getting louder. The last National Noise Attitude Survey found that more of us are being disturbed by road traffic, neighbours, planes, and construction. Noise is a known cause of serious health conditions: high blood pressure, heart attacks and type 2 diabetes are just some of the illnesses doctors have linked to long-term exposure to the city din. The good news is, plants are here to help. They absorb sound waves and are a natural barrier to soften nearby noise.
So there we have it. Gardening and growing your own plants can make a big difference to the urban environment.