Green spaces and parks mean different things to different people. Most people know their local park. They are places of relaxation and wellbeing. They feature in our childhood memories as we ran towards playgrounds racing for swings. We go to them for gentle walks or active sport. Or we sit on a rug in the sun or shade to read a book, or meet with friends. We use them for learning about, and protecting, the natural world around us.
Leeds is a very green city – Roundhay Park is one of the largest parks in Europe.
We need green spaces to stay healthy, for exercise and for the environmental benefit that trees, plants and greenery provide in reducing and absorbing the pollution we create.
Research indicates that around 9 million people across the world die each year from pollution related illnesses.
How do we get green spaces?
Much of the land for our parks in Leeds were donated to the city by wealthy individuals during the Victorian era who believed in the health benefits of green spaces as an antidote to the grime of the woollen mills and factories. Some were bought by the council for the same wellbeing reasons. Both ways gave the working people of Leeds access to parkland that had previously been the preserve of the wealthy. Now in contemporary developments, we plan green spaces as pausing places.
Wildlife in green spaces
As our cities grow and become more dense, green spaces become more and more important for wildlife. Insects, birds and small mammals such as mice and hedgehogs can live in park habitats, helping to decompose dead plant matter, pollinate flowers and keep pests under control. They also contribute to human wellbeing, with popular nature-based hobbies being birdwatching and nature photography.