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The Many Benefits of Green Spaces

Green spaces include parks, urban gardens, woodlands, and wildlife sanctuaries. They provide many environmental benefits, ranging from the promotion of biodiversity to the improvement of air quality.

When green spaces include organic urban gardens, people have the opportunity to produce food locally, which reduces carbon emissions associated with food transport as well as the negative environmental impacts of packaging and pesticide use. However, research has shown that green spaces provide benefits that go far beyond environmental sustainability.

Social benefits of green spaces include increasing a sense of community, reducing crime, and providing opportunities for public recreation. In addition, green spaces can have a profound effect on public health.

Green spaces promote physical activity and other healthy behaviours that prevent obesity and illness. For example, children who participate in community or school gardening projects eat more fruits and vegetables. Spending time in green spaces or even just having green views can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and the risk of illness, as well as speeding the healing process after illness or injury.

Green spaces can also provide academic benefits. Students who have the opportunity to participate in outdoor environmental education programs tend to be more engaged and motivated, and they perform better on standardized tests. Young people who spend time learning in green spaces have fewer behavioral issues and attend classes more regularly.

Green spaces bring many economic benefits to a region as well. Cities with lots of green spaces are more likely to attract and retain businesses and skilled workers, and property values increase near parks and other green spaces as well. Green areas also attract more tourists, and therefore more tourist dollars. In addition, they create employment for those who directly maintain them, as well as supporting businesses that supply the equipment required to do so.

Sources
GreenSpace, Blue Sky, Green Space: Understanding the Contribution Parks and Green Spaces Can Make to Improving People’s Lives, Full Report, 2011.
Louv, R., Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2005.
National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), Fact Sheet: Children’s Health and Nature, Washington, DC: NEEF, 2010.
State Education & Environment Roundtable (SEER), California Student Assessment Project: The Effects of Environment-Based Education on Student Achievement, Poway, CA: SEER, 2000.

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