Has your appreciation for nature increased during COVID-19?

Stratford Rec

 

 

 

As a society locally, nationally and internationally, we are now at a crossroads in regards to the natural and semi-natural environment we leave for future generations. If we don’t take decisive action now there is a chance we will be known as the generation that failed to utilise the knowledge, expertise and technology right in front of us to help prevent climate breakdown, due to our own greed and wealth.

A balance with nature can be found, however it requires a concerted effort from all to see the value it provides not only in creating attractive spaces, but the educational value, the biodiversity it brings to communities, improvements to health & wellbeing, added value financially to where we live and most of all to reduce the endangerment to the diverse range of flora & fauna which are required to keep ecosystems thriving.

 

 

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Questions?

Here are a few question for you to consider, has the pandemic brought you closer to nature? Have you taken time to listen to the birds chirping in the trees around you? Have you seen more wildlife in your gardens or from your balconies? Have you walked in green spaces and appreciated nature and thecalming impact it has on your mindset?

The benefits that well designed and managed green and blue open space has on us as humans is almost unquantifiable, however we still consider it acceptable to remove acres upon acres of habitat with limited afterthought. As opposed to considering how humans and nature can live symbiotically in a mutually beneficial way.

As a company Wharton has a simple vision and mission which is…

 

Creating a future where we live in balance with and connected to nature, by increasing our understanding of natural infrastructure and guiding its enhancement in the places we live, play and work.

Wharton Natural Infrastructure Consultants

 

 

 

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Act Now!

At a national level, what we are doing as humans, whether it be through development and construction, burning fossil fuels, implementation of infrastructure corridors such as highways or railway lines or removal of woodlands, street trees and other biodiversity, is impacting on the ecosystems and a multitude of services that they provide. However, we have an opportunity to change this negative impact. It is possible that the current Covid-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to the need, not only for access to green space, but ensuring it is well designed and implemented on the ground, in a way that provides lasting beneficial impact to the high population of urban and semi-urban dwellers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic Natural England conducted a new People and Nature Survey. It has revealed that during April-June 2020, almost 9 in 10 adults in England reported that protection of the environment is important to them personally. Nearly three quarters of adults were concerned about biodiversity loss in England.

 

9 in 10 adults in England reported that protection of the environment is important to them personally. Nearly three quarters of adults were concerned about biodiversity loss in England.

 

National Support

Trees and ecosystems are now recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) having described them as vital in supporting public health and wellbeing post-Covid. This month saw the Government provide over £4m for a new scheme aimed at helping the mental wellbeing of communities hardest hit by coronavirus. The project will examine how to scale-up green social prescribing services to help improve mental health outcomes, reduce health inequalities and alleviate demand on the health and social care system.

The new green social prescribing pilots will help people improve their overall wellbeing through activities like walking and gardening, while having a far-reaching positive impact on their mental and physical health, reducing loneliness and enhancing employability. Health Minister, RH Jo Churchill

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/green-social-prescribing-pilots-open-for-applications

 

 

We know that connecting with nature is good for us, and the pandemic has given us an even greater awareness of the link between our own health, and that of our environment. The Environment Minister, RH Rebecca Pow

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/green-social-prescribing-pilots-open-for-applications

 

 

 

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Ignore the evidence at your peril!

Sir David Attenborough’s has decades of hands-on experience and 70 years of filming, personally witnessing a decline, not only in the UK but across the world, of biodiversity and habitat through human activity. ‘Life on our Planet’ , Sir David’s plea/witness statement and vision to the nation, is one of the most eye opening productions which has been made in relation to the universal impact we have.

There is no doubt that as we see the ever changing impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has there is a fine balance between economic growth; the need for housing; the requirement for improvement of infrastructure; connectivity between towns and cities; but we cannot afford to ignore that this balance must include the restoration and improvement of green spaces, habitats and addressing the reconnection with nature. This will not only assist with the reversal of negative impacts that are already happening, but will also improve so many other challenges that people face.

 

 

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My personal plea is that every person makes one alteration on a weekly, or even better, daily basis, to the place where you live, work or play to improve the natural environment around you. This will not only improve your appreciation for nature but also have vast impacts on you health & well-being. For those individuals and organisations within the development and planning industry there is also recent guidance prepared by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) ‘Mental health and town planning – Building in resilience’, Section 4 of this guidance note specifically considers the need for access to green space.

Sheffield University has produced new research showing how greener front gardens can reduce stress. The study, highlighted how adding just a few plants in a bare front garden could reduce stress levels, equivalent to eight weekly mindfulness sessions. Reading the study led me to look at other recent research in this field. It was great to see a burgeoning and varied evidence base on the impact of greenspace on wellbeing, with many studies focusing on the impact of urban trees.

 

We can now further evidence the vital need to incorporate plants into our front gardens and domestic spaces. This will require a change in the way we strategise, design, plan and build our living spaces

Dr Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui Research Fellow

 

Let’s not be known as the generation who did not act quickly to preserve and enhance the environment. The time to act is now, to reconnect with nature, to identify the true value it provides, beyond pound signs. Many of the benefits cannot be quantified, however just a few benefits which have been calculated are: increased recovery rate in hospital, improved mental health (which could result in decreased pressure on the NHS), increased property value near to correctly managed and established green space and a reduction in atmospheric carbon.

Why not let the slower pace of life through the current pandemic assist in the positive realisation that we can create better places to live and work, it just requires the right teams and professional input from the outset and most importantly engagement and communication. Together let’s design and implement for future generations to reap the benefit.

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