Green is good

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A new report has confirmed the importance of green spaces to city dwellers, who let’s face it want all the pros of urban living but none of the cons, and sometimes want to feel like they live in the country too, just to make urban planners sleep easier at night.

The Husqvarna Global Garden Report 2012 studied nine countries and over more than 4,500 home owners, 540 of which were Australians, and found global interest in urban green spaces was growing but long-term prospects remained uncertain.

According to the report, despite relatively ample provisions, green spaces were still the most frequently mentioned feature Australian respondents wanted to see more of in their cities (chosen by 55 per cent).

Australians are also willing to pay more for a property if it’s located close to a green space (65 per cent) over good shopping, restaurants, cultural venues, and good nightlife.

Those who have access to parks are more likely to exercise, socialise and be less stressed but despite the clear demand for parks space and greenery, only 34 per cent of Australians believe there will be a growth in green spaces in the next 20 years.

With an urbanization degree of close to 90 per cent, Australia has historically been one of the world’s most urbanised countries and today about two-thirds of our 23 million inhabitants reside in just 17 cities.

But for those of us born prior to about 1980, or from rural or regional areas, the concept of defined “green space” is perhaps still a little foreign. Many of us probably had childhoods filled with games of back-yard cricket on acreage-sized home blocks or had enough yard-space for a swing-set and maybe even a see-saw, perhaps even an entire football field if you grew up in the country, so that visits to parks were not very common at all.

But as Australia becomes more urbanised and our population grows, housing is becoming denser and backyards shrinking to the point where swinging a bat may be the closest thing some people ever get to a game of Sunday arvo cricket.

It is not rocket science to understand the many benefits of green spaces, not only does being outdoors help to reduce stress and anxiety, but it also encourages exercise – and we all know that most of us don’t get enough of that. And according to the report, there is surging global interest in green spaces, which should help to protect and perhaps even grow these areas in the midst of unprecedented population growth.

One only has to look around Brisbane city to appreciate the variety and abundance of green spaces we have available. There is family-friendly South Bank where you can even take a swim at the beach when you are actually about 20km from the beach; Kangaroo Point (which is particularly good on a Saturday morning when a huge variety of people do their best Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky” or Olivia Newton-John in “Physical” impersonations); New Farm Park which has a collection of pampered pooches so wondrous it would make the producers of “Best in Show” weep with envy; and West End’s Orleigh Park where a menagerie of rowers, joggers, walkers, wood pigeons (I think), bbq’ers and slack-liners live together in perfect harmony (well, it is West End after all). Yes, Brisbane, has plenty of green space where you can be still, active or just feel at peace with the world. I think everyone recognises the benefits in that.


 By Nicola McDougall, Executive Manager Corporate Affairs, REIQ