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Sydneysiders need to be aware & highly concerned at the rapid growth & loss of green space that is currently happening, plus the plans to take even more green space away.
Once the green space is gone, it is gone forever.
The loss of green space is a serious public health issue. Green space not only provides valuable habitat for wildlife, but it also cools the area around it. We need places with trees, grass & other vegetation.
We need green places for our mental, physical & spiritual health. Without access to decent green spaces human beings tend to suffer. People who suffer from mental illness can feel more settled when they are out in nature.
Recent research found without going into green spaces on a regular basis, people tend to get stressed, anxious, depressed, move less & gain weight. Many of us suffer morbid rumination, where we go over & over what we perceive are our failings or what is wrong with our lives. Just going for a walk where there are good trees can stop this mental thought process & improve our happiness & life satisfaction levels.
Green spaces provide us with a stress break in our busy lives & gives our mind a break from mental fatigue. Regular experience in the leafy outdoors helps improve work performance. It also helps improve our cognitive function, memory & ability to learn & retain information.
The intellectual development of children improves when they have contact with nature. Those who have ADD/ADHD tend to respond well to time spent in nature & have more content retention ability.
Research found that plants in the workplace resulted in decreased sick leave, so imagine the impact if there was nice green space for workers to have their lunch.
Those with Alzheimers or dementia are helped by being in green space & being able to touch plants.
“Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.” See – http://nyti.ms/2lmPlzr
It is a fundamental need of human beings to have access to good green spaces. By good green spaces, I am not talking about a small patch of green on a main street or in a shopping mall, though these do have a significant role to play in offering areas of respite & helping lowering the urban heat island effect.
We all need areas where we can exercise for free without needing to pay for a gym membership. We need space to let off steam, to run, to shout, to play games alone or with friends.
We also need spaces where were can walk or sit quietly – where the only sound is nature; the wind in the trees & birds singing. We must keep those we have & not over develop them.
In my opinion, Council has a fundamental responsibility not to turn every green space into an entertainment venue. Places must be left where the only entertainment is what you can see in the natural environment around you. If people become depended on things to be provided for them to do in parks, they will lose the ability to relax or amuse themselves with whatever is around.
As our suburbs become more developed, our stress levels are likely to rise just doing everyday things like driving & shopping. Already traffic is a major negative issue in the locality & parking is often a nightmare.
Our streets are also green spaces – or they can be depending on the species of street tree planted. Squatty small canopy street trees do not have an impact, but big, full canopy street trees do. Have a look at the streets that are fortunate enough to have 80-year-old plus Brushbox trees. In the evening on hot days you will likely see pockets of people who have gathered outside in the shade. Good street trees are excellent at fostering connectivity between neighbours.
Verge gardens encourage connectivity as well. People like to talk about plants & gardening. Verge gardens offer the ability to swap plants & provide cuttings.
Today the news reported that the Total Environment Centre has identified more than 70 green spaces across Sydney at risk of being lost to development. See – http://bit.ly/2nrf0qZ
This is most concerning. If allowed to go ahead, habitat will be lost, wildlife will suffer & in cases like Cooks Cove where they want to develop the wetlands in Barton Park (see – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi ) migratory birds, frogs & other creatures will die.
The report from the Total Environment Centre said, “Sydney will build 664,000 homes between 2011 and 2031, with 60-70 per cent coming from “infill” developments within existing city boundaries.”
We as the community will have to make our voice heard, considering the views of Anthony Roberts, the Minister in charge of Planning and Housing Affordability who said, “Anti-development activists are welcome to suggest ideas to me that will help us grow housing supply in NSW while protecting their favourite trees.”
I’ve got an idea Minister Roberts. How about leaving all the green spaces alone & not allowing development in these areas. It’s quite simple really. Leave the parks, the golf courses & riversides for the community & so people in the future can use them as well.
I get annoyed at the simplistic view of politicians who, whenever the community speaks out against developing areas like Barton Park wetlands, say they are anti-development NIMBYs wanting people to move out of Sydney. Do these political leaders not see another way in which green spaces & areas of vital habitat cab be retained for the benefit of the whole community now & most certainly for the benefit of future generations? It can be done.
We had three heatwaves in February 2017 & this is expected to get worse as climate change accelerates. Green spaces are essential components of a livable city. That or we take a risk every year that heat wave events will be more frequent. Loss of human life has happened in cities across the world as a result of heat waves. Our government warned us that the power supply was likely to be shut off because of increased use of air-conditioning.
The urban heat island effect is another serious health issue that is relatively ignored. Roads are still being covered in black bitumen as a way of maintaining them despite knowing that these are major heat sinks.
On 10th February 2017 the temperature at Blaxland Riverside Park in Sydney Olympic Park was 41.6 degrees in the shade. However, some of the soft play surfaces in the children’s playground were around 84 degrees. The road surface in the car park was almost 73 degrees. This gives you an idea of our future if our gardens & streets are not significantly greened & if we lose green spaces. See – http://bit.ly/2lxujhu
“As Sydney’s population is growing there’s more houses, less trees, less green, more roads … it’s adding to the heat. ….. The way we’re going – and adding another million people plus an airport, more roads, more pollution, more industry, we can expect 10 more extreme hot days a year over 35 [degrees] ….. It will become the norm. Without the proper designs [and planning] the problem will only get worse.” ~ Stephen Bali, president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.
I remind you that the former Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia. We cannot afford to lose any of it, not even a morsel despite whatever the so-called gain to the community is slated to be. We cannot comment on public consultation in either the Leichhardt or Ashfield LGAs, despite being amalgamated into one large council. Therefore, Marrickville’s abysmal amount of green space should not be watered down by including green space from the other two municipalities we have amalgamated with.
Council should be taking every opportunity they can to add to the green space by transforming suitable areas of public space. I think they failed with Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville Road Marrickville, the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt & the latest being the unusually large street space area on the corner of Canterbury Road & Herbert Street Dulwich Hill, though this is my own opinion.
The public space outside the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro is also an area eliciting much conversation within the community. All that I have read or heard has been negative. Whether you like what Metro has done is personal, but there is no doubt a heat sink has been created with all that concrete & tiling. It is also a big loss to see that a number of mature trees have been removed.