The urban ecology has emerged as a branch of ecology as a result of the high growth in the urban population that has led to studies on the urban environment concerning the living organisms around it. The urban environment has been characterized by high numbers of human-made structures, including the commercial and residential buildings. According to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world's population in the next 40 years will be residing in growing urban areas. Apparently, due to this expected growth of the urban population soon, urban ecology stands to be of great importance. The urban ecology, being an interdisciplinary field, involves all the investigations around the complex relationships between human beings and their surroundings, such as production, housing, construction, and transport, among others. The interdisciplinary nature of the urban ecology is significant to the understanding of the urban systems as well as improving the urban living standards and its environment at large.
For instance, the study of urban ecology is essential in understanding the functionality of the urban systems and how these systems are affected by both local and global processes. This is significant in analyzing how to maintain the effectiveness of water cycles in a region as well as the factors affecting this, such as the green spaces, landscape usage, climate conditions, and coexistence of species, among others. The urban ecology is strongly connected to many other disciplines, including geography, sociology, landscape architecture, economics, urban planning, climatology, public health, and engineering. Therefore, urban ecology defines the relationship between human beings and nature. Urban green spaces have been classified into different categories by spatial characteristics, uses, size, geographical locations, facilities, service purpose, and property. In this article, I will discuss who, what, when, and where concerning the urban ecology.
Parks, gardens, sports fields, wetlands, and woods, and natural meadows, among other ecosystems are very crucial elements of any urban ecosystem. Green urban are significant, especially by facilitating physical and recreational activities because they act as a refuge from the noisy urban environment. Trees are essential vitals that produce oxygen that we breathe and help in curbing out air pollution. Also, water spots originating from lakes and rivers, fountains are very crucial in moderating temperatures. Urban gardens and parks are essential for walking and cycling, as well as other recreational events and activities. According to a recent study, about 3.3% of global deaths have been linked to a lack of recreational grounds and poor walkability. Green spaces are suitable for better physical and mental health.
There exists a mutual relationship between the ecological processes and cities in such a way that they affect each other. Therefore, human beings become the core of environmental studies. The environment exists for men to enjoy and interact with. However, as the urban areas develop and grow, human beings should take the responsibility of making nature more human-friendly.
The green spaces are a very crucial component of urban ecology, especially for community development, whether they are adjacent to business, housing, or leisure places. Some of the urban green spaces include vegetation, accessibility services, water, toilets, shelter services, playgrounds and sports areas, activities and events, and lighting resources, among others. The green space quality is determined by factors such as infrastructure, accessibility, vegetation, equipment, and security. The distance walking time, ease of access, proximity, and distribution, and location are the most critical conditions that potentially favour green spaces. Urban green areas are both private, and public open spaces within urban centres meant to provide passive or active recreation. They are mostly covered by vegetation and have an indirect positive influence on the environment. Every green space has been associated with urban heat islands, heat stress, and reduction of air pollution. Since most of the green spaces are characterized with vegetation, the relationship between the green space and the reduction of air pollution is primarily affected by the relative tree cover of a particular green space. Green spaces that belong to a community are known to be less exposed to air pollution, especially at the household level. The Greenspace ecosystems are of great importance, especially in the urban areas, since they enhance the quality of life. Climate regulation and biodiversity are some of the essential ecosystem services supplied by urban green spaces. Besides, urban green spaces are very crucial in protecting wildlife, meads, watersheds, protecting quality air that enhances a dense urban environment, including recreational activities.
Moreover, creating more urban green spaces will ensure that more wildlife and biodiversity are sustained by increased habitats. Green spaces are known to provide shelter for many species. Therefore, it is apparent that creating, protecting, and developing more urban green spaces will remain to be a relevant element that will ensure more sustained urban development. Urban green spaces are known to have significant impacts on both human health and thermal comfort. Some types of green spaces include green roofs and green buildings. The green roof is a building's roof that has been covered with vegetation, which has been planted over some growing medium. Green roofs are known to provide quality air because they ensure some level of heat mitigation and a well-irrigated roof providing cooling. Also, the green roofs are effective in reducing the heat islands and serves as an alternative for cooling and mitigating pollution in the high populated urban centres. Besides, the urban green spaces are effective at facilitating the carbon dioxide balance by taking as more of it than what the atmosphere is returning.
Furthermore, urban green spaces provide more benefits events to individual citizens besides their help in air quality and pollution mitigation. Many people are used to paying visits to the green spaces because of the full range of enjoyable environmental elements they offer, such as trees, flowers, fresh air, nature, wildlife, educational opportunities, children play-grounds, and social activities among other fun events human find exciting. For instance, people have set up shared gardens and parks that facilitate socialization and interactions through social activities, collective cultural interventions, and walkaways, among other well-being recreational activities, including passive enjoyments. Higher greenness levels have been associated with both mental and physical health, and for instance, greenness is possibly contributing to lower stroke mortality. Socioeconomic and cultural differences have potentially been associated with the difference in the distribution of green spaces. Most people visit urban places because of the green spaces available. Urban green spaces are significant for a balanced quality of life and lifestyle because they encourage both mental and physical fitness as well as reducing the tension and harshness of the urban environment. The green spaces facilities have also contributed to the social inclusion and integration that are very crucial for community development. Most of the citizens who live around the urban green spaces have reported reduced health inequalities as well as circulatory diseases. According to surveys, many people, especially those surrounded by green spaces, have been found to experience less stress, communicate well, and even make any sensible decisions.
Additionally, investing in green spaces have a significant impact on the economy because of their direct economic benefits and values that they generate by the willingness to pay for the products, increase on the property value, agriculture within the urban areas as well as city branding. There is a notable increase on the property value, especially for those locations close to urban green spaces. According to American studies, the property value was found to increase by 20% in locations near parks. In Finland, the prices for an apartment that is near water as well as forested recreational sites are much higher compared to other places. Besides, the price is known to increase depending on the total size of the forested area within residential places. Also, in China, apartments have been noted to vary their prices depending on whether their view is within the proximity of any green space. However, the price fluctuations depending on the location of green prices within the neighbourhood of residential areas have created an increase in social-economic injustice, especially in the housing sector. For instance, in the U.S.A, the urban forests are mostly found in wealthy areas since the property are higher and fewer people will afford them.
Urban green spaces are the primary elements that bring the beauty of any urban environment. Greenspace has a lot of good to offer to human beings. Therefore, it is the absolute responsibility of human beings to take care of the green ecosystems. Many people have substantially invested their resources into the green spaces by building and creating facilities such as playgrounds, and recreational areas that make use of the green components. Economically, people have cultivated vast sums of profits in the business involving green spaces. Everyone in the world wishes for safer places, at least where they can enjoy the unpolluted fresh air.
State and federal governments should implement policies that promote the creation and development of urban green spaces. State agencies should support through funding facilities such as recreational facilities, and game and sports fields for the public. Private sectors have not been left behind in this lucrative sector; they have invested in the most expensive urban areas where they have fitted green ecosystems. We can no longer claim to be mindful of both mental and physical health if we neglect to take care of the green ecosystem, especially in our highly populated urban centres. Urban green spaces are the most vital crucial component of the ecosystem for community development. The functions and services that the urban green spaces provide a community can be compared to meeting user needs because they are the most satisfying needs by nature. Therefore, how communities engage and get involved in the development of the urban green spaces should be reviewed to ensure human beings take care of the ecosystem. Besides, for the satisfaction of the urban user's needs, including their aspirations, large urban green spaces are required. The green spaces should be distributed in a manner that sustains a better relationship between the human being and the environment. However, there exist political concerns on the prioritization of the green spaces in different urban areas. Local authorities should support both public actions and initiatives in addressing issues related to urban green spaces to attain sustainable development.
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Aronson, Myla FJ, Christopher A. Lepczyk, Karl L. Evans, Mark A. Goddard, Susannah B. Lerman, J. Scott MacIvor, Charles H. Nilon, and Timothy Vargo. "Biodiversity in the city: key challenges for urban green space management." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 15, no. 4 (2017): 189-196.
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