Impact of green spaces on mental well-being

Impact of green spaces on mental well-being
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/5/2020 4:46:40 AM IST

 The Environmental value and Mental well-being of People in association with Parks and Green Spaces 

The present study is an excerpt from the research work by Alino Sumi, a Doctoral candidate and Senior Research Fellow (SRF) of Martin Luther Christian University, Meghalaya, an awardee of NET JRF & Assistant Professorship and a recipient of the University Merit Scholarship. The study was conducted in three significant study areas of Shillong city, Meghalaya- Lady Hydari Park, Wards Lake and Golf Link- during the period of 2013-2015 through surveys using self-administered questionnaires. The intent of the dissemination of this particular research is to provide recommendations to the state of Nagaland to lay emphasis on the importance of green spaces and follow the protocols of the government of Meghalaya for the development, maintenance and management of our state’s environmental health and citizens’ mental well being. The research investigated people’s perception of the green settings, the emotional dimensions involved in the experience of nature and its importance for their general well being. 
It is disheartening that attention is not being paid to that type of nature close to where people live and work, to small-scale green areas in cities and their benefits to people. Hence, the main concern of this study is to address the importance of parks and green spaces for citizens’ well being and for the sustainability of the city they inhabit. 
1. Importance of green spaces and public parks on human health
There is growing evidence that horticulture is important on a human level. The results from the study is listed below:
i. A brisk walk every day in the parks can reduce the risk of heart attacks by 50%, strokes by 50%, diabetes by 50%, and fracture of the femur by 30%, colon cancer by 30%, breast cancer by 30% and Alzheimer by 25%.
ii. Plants lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension related to stress, improve attention and reduce feelings of fear and anger or aggression. 
iii. People recovered faster in a hospital when given a landscape view, rather than seeing only the walls of adjoining buildings.
iv. The study also demonstrated that being in, or viewing green space for a short period of time reduces stress.
v. ADD symptoms in children are relieved after contact with nature. Greenery in a child’s everyday environment-even views of green through a window-reduces ADD symptom. Children with ADD can concentrate on schoolwork and similar tasks better than usual after taking part in activities in green settings, such as walking through or playing in a park. ADD is a psychiatric disorder of the neurodevelopment type in which there are significant problems of attention, hyperactivity or acting impulsively. 
2. Importance of green spaces and public parks on environmental health.
The urban green settings play a major role in improving urban environmental conditions and safeguarding biodiversity. 
i. Green areas in one’s living environment may ameliorate air pollution, and the urban heat island effect.
ii. The roles of vegetation in open green spaces reduce the surface runoff as well as enable infiltration of rainwater and thus, recharge the groundwater.
iii. Turf grasses offer one of the most cost-effective methods to control water and wind-erosion of soil. When this major erosion control benefit is combined with the groundwater recharge, soil improvement is effective.
iv. Tree crowns can provide habitat for birds and invertebrates in otherwise intensively managed and used garden. The green ecosystem also supports a diverse community of non-pest invertebrates.
v. The transpirational cooling effect of green turfs and landscapes can save energy by reductions in the energy input required for interior mechanical cooling of adjacent homes and buildings and also help in noise abatement.
Importantly, trees in urban systems provide a variety of ecosystems services including biodiversity conservation, removal of atmospheric pollutants, oxygen generation, noise reduction, mitigation of urban heat island effects, microclimate regulation, stabilization of soil, ground water recharge, prevention of soil erosion, and carbon sequestration.
There is an important link between parks and recreation settings with physical activity with evidence through the contribution that parks and recreation makes as part of the “health care system” system within the green spaces. 
With cities witnessing increasing rate of urbanization, significant negatory changes in public health and environment splurges into wider debate. The negative implications of urbanization cannot be ousted entirely yet it can be minimized with significant efforts. One such effort is to multiplicate the available green spaces in the city as it has an important legacy since time immemorial providing opportunities for individuals to ameliorate their health, for communities to develop, and to fortify the environment. 
Recommendations for Nagaland-
The study, a green space visitor- based survey, recommends:
1. Potential of green exercise- The study helped in postulating suggestions for modification and improvement of the green space users’ opportunities for beneficial ‘green exercises’ such as walking, and also ‘green sedentary exercises’ such as relaxation. 
2. Reference criteria for planners and developers- Different people have different motives for green space use, thus, reflecting their heterogeneous demands on green space and the needs they expect to be fulfilled. This information can help planners and developers to formulate strategies in tune with public needs and expectations. 
3. Development policy- In terms of formulating development policies, there will be a need to consider the proper management of existing green spaces and sensitively plan and thrive to implement change for a more sustainable city with improved green spaces. 
My study supports a shared association of green spaces, aesthetic and environmental value succoured by visitors’ strong approval of green spaces’ contribution to the mentioned significant values. This association justifies the wide array of heterogeneous purposes served by green spaces in benefitting the environment and also the quality of life of the people.

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