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Social, Psychological, Environmental and Health Benefit of Green Areas (Green Belt)

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The environmental problems caused by the change of urban landscape are summarized as air and water pollution, waste materials, noise, the consumption of natural areas for urban development, deterioration like urban life and the decrease in the urban landscape (Woolley, 2003).

Green areas are exceptionally esteemed by urban and landscape designers for their provision to the quality of life in urban areas. “Access to normal open spaces is an important incentive in modern-day society”. Moreover, green areas are related to people and social meanings. They give a context to social cooperation; fill in as unmistakable tokens of childhood and recollections of community life, and offer “portals” or open doors for people to escape for some time from the pressure of urban life (Burgess et al., 1988).

Urban green areas serve for common purposes although they are defined by different types. They provide users shadow physical comfort such as clean air and resting places, and formal or informal social interactions such as a combination of different social groups and traditionsand opportunities regarding the cultural experience in urban areas (Lawton, 2007). Along with the ongoing urbanization movement, urban spaces are expanded without thinking the green space development, and rural lands are transformed into built-up areas (Kabisch et al., 2014).

However, according to (Groening and Bulmahn, 1989) in the past, urban green areas were re-creative and symbolic places where people provide their food, today they are considered as a way to ensure the individual’s relation with the nature, to bring the natural life into the city and to make cities more livable.

Urban zones have been the most significant segments of the city that implies a great deal as spaces where people have endured in each moment of life by changing in some cases into landscapes which are simply looked for the city-occupants, now and then into parks where the life is shared and individuals dispose of the pressure of everyday life, once in a while into shelter for kids, and playgrounds.

Urban green areas benefits are as follows, economic, environmental, health benefits, social.

Economic benefits

  • Creation of job opportunities, providing services to local, regional people and tourists in green areas, employment of people responsible for the maintenance of these areas (Dunnett et al., 2002; Wright, 2011).
  • Creation of general economic impacts; green areas attract investments by increasing the quality of the areas where they exist, increase the values of those areas in particular, increase the values of the real estates in their surroundings and support the local economies (Woolley, 2003; Byrne and Sipe, 2010; Wright, 2011; Jim and Chen, 2009; Kabisch et al., 2015).
  • The well planned and designed green areas that increase the attractiveness of the city contribute to tourism and thus economy (Dunnett et al., 2002; Byrne and Sipe, 2010).
  • The presence of green areas decreases the heating and cooling costs of the buildings by their climate balancing features and reduces the negative effects caused by them (Byrne and Sipe, 2010).

Environmental benefits

The environmental benefits of urban green areas are associated with features of climate and environmental improvement, providing opportunities for habitats (Woolley, 2003), improving aesthetic appearance (McCormack et al., 2010; Sugiyama et al., 2010), and improving the urban landscape and the city’s livability.

  • The plants that constitute urban green areas reduce the air pollution by seizing the particles, absorbing the heavy metals and polluting gasses and assuming the task of filtering air (Dunnet et al., 2002; Lawton, 2007).
  • They play a role in improving the urban air quality, improving the urban climate and decreasing the noise level (Gidlof Gunnarsson and Ohrstrom, 2007).
  • They reduce the negative effect of urban areas on natural water sources by ensuring the absorption and retention of rain waters, and they control the water regime (Niemela, 2014).
  • Urban green areas create cool urban spaces and mitigate the urban heat island effect (Lawton, 2007).

Health benefits

Urban zones make a sentiment of fulfillment in the person alongside getting away from the challenges of the living situations and the dynamic involvement in nature by guaranteeing individuals working in a bustling program to dispose of their day by day weariness and noise of the city. To touch, see, hear and smell the elements that constitute the natural world can make people get rid of their thoughts, refresh people, and provide them with a sense of peace and calmness (Kaplan, 1989).

However poor-quality urban areas, lacking green areas indirectly affect the physical health of the individuals of city dwellers; and the negative emotions caused by mental stress lead to cardiovascular diseases by increasing the blood pressure of the individual and negatively affect the mental health of the individual due to asthma, cancer and metabolic disorders (Lawton, 2007).

Benefits of urban green areas to physiological health:

  • Accelerate recovering from various types of cancer (Byrne and Sipe, 2010).
  • Allow people to fight against obesity and heart disease caused by a sedentary lifestyle (Byrne and Sipe, 2010).
  • Decrease the chronic health risks such as nervous system damage and heavy metal poisoning (Wright, 2011).
  • Improve the general state of health (De Vries et al., 2003; Maas et al., 2006).
  • Lower the blood pressure (Qin j et al., 2013).
  • Prolong the life span (Takano et al., 2002; Schipperijn et al., 2010).

Benefits of urban green areas to psychological health:

The effects of urban green areas on psychological health can be classified under five main headings (Rohde and Kendle, 1994):

  • Behavioral; they increment the exploratory and courageous disposition supporting or shaping confidence.
  • Cognitive; they reduce mental fatigue and refresh the attention (Kaplan, 1989).
  • Developmental; they support children’s healthy development by encouraging a higher level of mental activity in them (Ozguner, 2003).
  • Emotional; they decrease the stress, increase individual’s positive feelings about himself (Ulrich et al., 1991; Grahn and Stigsdotter, 2003; Ulrich, 2006; Nielsen and Hansen, 2007; Byrne and Sipe, 2010), positively affect the individual’s experiences that renew and offer health (Hartig et al., 2003; Van den Berg et al., 2010).
  • Social; they encourage natural habitat interaction, advance communication between social boundaries and even give a more extensive social responsibility in some cases.

Social benefits

Green areas have two capacities as far as public activity: green areas give people the chance to feel the solace outside their living spaces and in this manner make them feel that they are related to a more prominent social structure. These areas allow people to be alone as well as allowing them to share life with many people; and even they sometimes include places that will allow people to be alone in the crowds (Thompson, 2002; Jim and Chen, 2009; Byrne and Sipe, 2010).

Secondly, green areas serve as the gathering place for people to communicate with each other; people become acquainted with others, young people get rid of the heavy responsibilities even just for a while (Burgess et al., 1988). It is, however, the spaces that help to shape the community’s attitudes and to develop the identity of the community and that provide continuity from the past to present become important for neighbors and obtain a social value and meaning (Project for Public Space, 2000).

Nevertheless, the green areas structure the child development by providing children with the opportunity to have energetic playgrounds based on imagination with the facilities in the outer space and ensure that children interact with adults (Woolley, 2003). This situation positively affects the children’s social and cognitive development, teaches them the social values and coping with difficulties, and gives them physical and mental health (Wheater et al., 2007).

Reference

Qin, J.; Zhou, X.; Sun, C.; Lian, Z. (2013) Influence of green spaces on environmental satisfaction and physiological status of urban residents. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 12(4), 490-497.

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Rohde C. L. E. & Kendle A. D. (1994). Human Well-Being, Natural Landscapes and Wildlife in Urban Areas a Review.

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