What does the Natural Environment do for our community?
Natural environments provide important services to our community – such as cleaning air, water, providing flood protection, bettering physical and mental health, and cooling surrounding environments. These services are provided to our community now, and preserving our natural environment helps us be better prepared for the future impacts of climate change.
What are 'Environmental Benefits'?
When we say, ‘Environmental benefits’, we mean the benefits that will take place in our natural ecosystem as a result of connecting and preserving parks and open space. For example, there is research that shows that when we connect and preserve natural environments we see improvements in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, such as better water quality, soil health, and pollination (1). Another example is that by connecting and preserving trees, parks and open spaces in our city, we can decrease air pollution, improve our storm water management, and we even see cooling effects in parks and near bodies of water, which have important economic co-benefits for residents and our city budget (1). It is equally as important here, that when we do connect and preserve natural environments, like our parks and open space that we make sure that every neighbourhood has equal access to them so that all residents, regardless of what neighbourhood they live in, can experience the environmental benefits.
1. British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. (2018). Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit: Making the Links Between Design, Planning and Health, Version 2.0 [Internet]. Vancouver, BC: Provincial Health Services Authority. Available from: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-professionals/professional-resources/healthy-built-environment-linkages-toolkit
How does the Natural Environment promote Health?
Natural Environments have important health promoting abilities – such as inspiring active transportation, promoting better physical and mental health, and by bringing diverse neighbourhoods together (1). Research evidence says that spending time in natural environments can reduce levels of stress, chronic disease, mental health challenges (such as depression and anxiety) and improve social connections and wellbeing – even a 10-minute walk near nature or with a view of nature can improve health and wellbeing (1).
Preserving and connecting natural environments in our city is a of making sure that everyone in our city has equitable access to its health protecting abilities. It also helps us ensure that our parks and open spaces are accessible for everyone to enjoy, today and in generations to come.