In South Africa, there are more streets named after non-native plant species than native plant species.
There's ample evidence that colonial imprints and mindsets in many cities and towns around the world today still dominate the availability of green spaces and how they're managed.
Several large cities have set ambitious targets for increasing their tree canopy. The city of Montréal has adopted an action plan that aims to plant 185,000 trees by 2025.
To protect urban trees, it's important to reduce the impact from construction. Advance planning and close supervision can help.
The built environment plays a pivotal role in lowering residents' exposure to climate change driven risks.
Traffic flows past trees that have been felled to make way for a highway in Nairobi, Kenya on November 12, 2020.
Photo by LUIS TATO/AFP via Getty Images
Parts of Nairobi are already dealing with temperature increases and reduction in humidity. These conditions are associated with increases in mortality, especially in children and the elderly.
COVID-19 restrictions led to calls to open up golf courses to the public. But these are such precious refuges for native flora and fauna that access will have to be carefully managed.
Nature is a promise of escape, a moment of relief and a relationship worth cherishing.
All parks are not equal. The response to the opening of golf courses to the public during the COVID pandemic shows the quality of green open space is a big issue for city residents.
Makoko neighbourhood in Lagos, initially founded as a fishing village.
Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images
If we learn from COVID-19, there are three key areas to tackle to make cities safer from outbreaks of future infectious diseases.
Colleges with “green spaces” can contribute to improved mental health for students.
FatCamera/E+ via Getty Images
The design of a campus and its buildings and dorms can be crucial to a student's overall well-being.
Virtually all South African cities remain under a form of green apartheid.
In South African cities there's an uneven distribution of trees, greenery and parks across racial and income geographies.
Human encroachment on the environment is increasing the threat of diseases like COVID-19, but spending more time in nature could also be part of the solution to this pandemic.
Melbourne Sky Park, between the CBD grid and Docklands precinct.
Oculus, used with permission
The release of a roadmap for green roofs, walls and facades in Australia can help our cities catch up with the world leaders in urban greening.
The design called for plants and play spaces – big improvements over brick and razor wire.
Iowa State University student design team
About half of incarcerated women in the United States are mothers to children under age 18. Natural spaces within a prison can help maintain their mother-child bonds.
COVID-19 has upturned uses of public spaces that we took for granted. Will shifts in the regulation of these spaces lead to a change in thinking about who “owns” the city?
Our mental health benefits when nature is part of our neighbourhoods, as in this residential street in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
It's well-established that green spaces are good for our well-being. Now we can demonstrate that greater biodiversity boosts this benefit, as well as helping to sustain native plants and animals.
The lure of suburbia clearly remains strong. To deal with sprawl, planners need to increase urban density in a way that resonates with the leafy green qualities of suburbia that residents value.
Residents of the 'leafy suburbs' will continue to fear what they might lose to increasing urban density without an explicit planning approach that enhances green space in affected neighbourhoods.
Even the standard grassed nature strip has value for local wildlife.
When so much of the green space in our cities is in the form of nature strips, current restrictions on plantings are denying us the many social and environmental benefits of more diverse greenery.
Sea Line Park, one of the shortlisted entries in the competition to design a new park for the Melbourne of 2050.
Future Park Design Ideas Competition
Some might scoff at the free-ranging ideas sparked by a competition to design future parks for Melbourne. But the legacy of a radical idea to green a CBD street in 1985 shows why we need such thinking.
Allowing residents to remove trees within three metres of buildings or ‘ancillary structures’ could dramatically alter the green infrastructure of dense inner Sydney suburbs like Rozelle.
Greater urban density is making it harder to preserve, let alone increase, tree cover. It's vital, then, to demonstrate the full value of green infrastructure for healthy liveable cities.
Imagine Hyde Park in Sydney without its tree cover … the impact on this space and the many people who spend time in it would be profound.
Cities around Australia have plans to increase their green space, but new research shows not all green spaces are equal. Good tree cover is better than grassed areas for residents' mental health.