Beauty is in the eye of the budget holder
At the Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum conference in Glasgow, 6-7 October 2015, several speakers addressed the human health and well-being value of green space. At a time of pressure on spending by public and private sectors alike, there are fears that the aesthetic quality of our green space is threatened by budget cut-backs. But who is to decide what is attractive, what kind of urban ‘greenscape’ is desirable, efficacious for health and a sense of well-being? One man’s perfect lawn is another man’s impoverished green desert. Acres of ‘tidy’ gardens, with no patches of cover and patrolled by a feline population hundreds of times greater than anything to be found in nature, is a strategy for minimal wildlife. Wildlife potential for green space can be greatly enhanced when ‘untidy’ areas are left amongst parks, gardens, brownfield sites and around and within SUDS features. When a grassy meadow is in flower it’s easy to see how attractive that is for informal recreation – relaxation in a pleasant landscape.
Photograph: Korean government delegation enjoying the wildflower meadow at a detention basin “community raingarden” feature in Dunfermline in July 2015
It perhaps takes a little more imagination to see it in the same way once the flowers are finished, and rank vegetation remains in at least some places. But watch a cold winter wind whistle through gaps in a dry stone wall or fence where the grass margin has been cut down right up to the boundary, and wonder where small birds and mammals can shelter over winter. The thickets and tangles of long grass, rushes or reeds in wetland basin, overgrown swale edge or beneath some of the trees in a park, are refuges from winter weather and predators. A desolate winter lawn across a public park or around a SUDS feature means death to the animals that otherwise may have had places to shelter.
More information about the Korean visit and other international services provided by members of enviroexperience can be seen in the Portfolio section of our website http://www.enviroexperience.co.uk Presentations from the recent green infrastructure conference which featured well-being and health as well as other green space ecosystem services, can be seen on the SGIF website www.sgif.org.uk
BJD 21st October 2015.