Feeling tired or stressed? Unable to concentrate or feel at ease? Overcome with exhaustion or anxiety?
If the travails of life in the metro is making you feel out of sorts, it may be time to go green… that is, go to green spaces.
What are urban green spaces?
Urban green spaces are areas reserved for parks, plant life and other kinds of natural environment.
These areas provide city dwellers with places for picnics, leisurely walks, and other forms of outdoor recreational activities. They also serve as areas where people can escape the heat, air and noise pollution, as well as enjoy some peace and quiet.
Green spaces also serve to beautify the urban setting, adding welcome touches of green and other colors of nature, thereby integrating the natural environment with the built environment.
Why are urban green spaces important?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends universal access to green spaces, specifically that there should be a green space measuring at least 0.5 hectares at a linear distance of no more than 300 meters from every home.
This is because multiple studies have shown that green spaces help reduce stress, encourage social cohesion and physical activity, as well promote mental and physical health.
Other studies also point to increasing urban green spaces helping to stave off premature death.
Green spaces have also been shown to improve cognitive ability and social behaviors among children, particularly in the areas of attention restoration, memory, competence, socialization, self-discipline and stress moderation.
Increasing green spaces in cities is also seen to improve urban biodiversity and sustainability. With more plant species included planned green spaces attract birds and other fauna which help control pest infestations.
They also reduce the effects of Urban Heat Islands (UHIs), defined as metropolitan areas which are significantly warmer than their surrounding rural areas due to the daily activities of urban populations concentrated in a small area.
Green spaces in Metro Manila
Sadly, over the past several decades, the metro’s urban planners haven’t prioritized the provision for green spaces.
In 2019, netizen BA Racoma culled data from the Philippine Statistics Authority and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority to come up with a map indicating the few remaining green spaces in Metro Manila.
These include: La Mesa Ecopark, Balara Filters Park, Arboretum Forest, Rizal Park Nayong Pilipino and Muntinlupa Sunken Garden.
Other netizens also identified Las Piñas Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area and the Arroceros Park in Manila as green spaces endangered by proposed real estate developments.
What you can do
If you haven’t visited the metro’s green spaces, it’s high time that you do so. This way, you can experience their health benefits and appreciate their aesthetic value first-hand.
You may also opt to patronize establishments that incorporate green areas in their design in the form of gardens or mini-parks.
You may also write to your local government unit (LGU) officials about developing green spaces in your community. Also, in every local or national election, do check out the candidate’s stand on the environment and public health to see how developing urban green spaces may be included in their future policies and projects.
Urban green spaces have been shown to greatly contribute to public health and the city’s beautification. It would be a shame if these areas dwindle and disappear, leaving the metro’s residents bereft of their various benefits.
Plant pictures taken at Rockwell The Grove in Pasig City.