• Also Cuba needs Green Cities

    Cuba, under the auspices of the UN Development Program (UNDP), is implementing a strategic flora and fauna conservation and preservation initiative that involves an undertaking to implement a series of concrete actions until the year 2020.The national study, led by Cuba’s Environment Agency’s Ecology and Systematic Institute, incorporates 20 goals and five concrete targets, intended to stem biodiversity deterioration and destruction.

    Addressing the underlying causes of species loss, coping with primary threats, encouraging the sustainable exploitation of species and the conservation of ecosystems, habitats, species and genes are some of the program’s goals.Launching the strategy, the UND’s resident representative in Cuba, Soledad Bauza, stressed the importance of the program, which is the principal strand of a plan for implementing strategic national environmental policy objectives, to cope with the loss of animal and plant species.Bauza told The Havana Reporter that the goals focus on the main challenges that productive sectors must face to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and restore the health of ecosystems. The strategy also plays a leading role in the fight against climate.

    Given its insular state condition, Cuba is highly vulnerable to rising average sea levels and temperatures and drought conditions.

    Having already been presented to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP13) last December in Cancun, Mexico, the report’s authors state that the plan complies with UN Convention on Climate Change commitments and aims to establish a series of actions with relevant and realistic goals. Its primary purpose is to identify and establish priorities to halt biodiversity loss though preservation and sustainable use.

    Source: UNDP & http://www.cadenagramonte.cu


  • Scientific research shows: gardening is good for you

    #Benefits of green #gardening #healing gardens #health

    Gardens and landscapes have long been designed as sanctuaries and retreats from the stresses of life – from great urban green spaces such as Central Park in New York to the humblest suburban backyard. But beyond the passive enjoyment of a garden or of being in nature more generally, researchers have also studied the role of actively caring for plants as a therapeutic and educational tool.

    “Therapeutic horticulture” and “horticultural therapy” have become recognised treatments for stress and depression, which have served as a healing aid in settings ranging from prisons and mental health treatment facilities to schools and hospitals.

    Gardening and school

    Studies of school gardening programs – which usually centre on growing food – show that students who have worked on designing, creating and maintaining gardens develop more positive attitudes about health, nutrition and the consumption of vegetables.

    They also score better on science achievement, have better attitudes about school, and improve their interpersonal skills and classroom behaviour.

    Research on students confirms that gardening leads to higher levels of self-esteem and responsibility. Research suggests that incorporating gardening into a school setting can boost group cohesiveness.

    Gardening and mental health

    Tailored gardening programs have been shown to increase quality of life for people with chronic mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression.

    Another study on the use of therapeutic horticulture for patients with clinical depression sought to understand why gardening programs were effective in lessening patient experience of depression. They found that structured gardening activities gave patients existential purpose. Put simply, it gave their lives meaning.

    In jails and corrective programs, horticultural therapy programs have been used to give inmates positive, purposeful activities that lessen aggression and hostility during and after incarceration.

    In one detailed study from a San Francisco program, involvement in therapeutic horticulture was particularly effective in improving psychosocial functioning across prison populations (although the benefits were not necessarily sustained after release.)

    Gardening has been shown to help improve the lives of military veterans and homeless people. Various therapeutic horticulture programs have been used to help people with learning difficulties, asylum seekers, refugees and victims of torture.

    source: theconversation.com


  • This nature-filled community is a smart housing solution for Singapore’s aging population

    #Benefits of green #nature #social cohesion

    The island city-state of Singapore is one of the world’s fastest-aging countries, with predictions placing nearly a fifth of its population at ages 65 and over by 2030. To cater to its aging population and cope with the challenges of land scarcity, WOHA Architects designed Kampung Admiralty, Singapore’s first integrated public development filled with a wide range of public facilities, services, and greenery. In addition to the close proximity to a variety of amenities, elderly residents will also enjoy a close connection to nature and the community.

    Developed as a prototype for senior assisted living, Kampung Admiralty conforms to Singapore’s dense urban setting with a mixed-use scheme that layers three programmatic functions onto a 0.9-hectare site. The first stratum is the People’s Plaza, a fully public area on the ground plane open to the surrounding community with a central open-air courtyard located at the heart of the building. Protected from traffic noise, the People’s Plaza is designed for festivities and events and also connects to food and retail on the second story. Childcare facilities are integrated into the building to bring young and old together for intergenerational living.

    A Medical Center located above the People’s Plaza offers Kampung Admiralty residents immediate access to specialists. The top-most level gives way to greenery in the intimate Community Park, where residents can exercise or care for their plots in community gardens. Housing is also placed in the upper stratum and comprises 104 studio apartments for singles and couples spread out across two 11-story blocks. In addition to access to nature, the building is faced with generous amounts of glazing to allow for optimal views, natural light, and ventilation.

    Source: inhabitat.com

  • Gardens for the elderly can make a neighbourhood stronger

    #Benefits of green #gardens #health

    How can you make the world larger for the elderly in care facilities? And how do you connect such a facility to the neighbourhood? Green can be a key factor, as was demonstrated by the residential care centre Tolsteeg in Utrecht. Here a lush enclosed garden and a fruit and vegetable patch were realised with the help from volunteers living in the neighbourhood.

    For a long time there was a desire for more greenery in nursing home Tolsteeg. But as is often the case in these facilities, this was difficult to realize, especially with a view to the future. So many times such ideas run aground because they are initiated by a handful of inhabitants who get too old to carry on or even pass away. And of course there is the maintenance issue: gardening can take up a lot of time and money.

    Clear goals and continuity are important

    A non-profit organization for urban agriculture in Utrecht, called Stichting Stadslandbouw Utrecht), thought differently. Together with local housing cooperative Portaal and geriatric institution Axion Continu they investigated the commercial and social opportunities of growing vegetables and fruits in those public areas of the neighbourhood that were run down or simply could use something extra. Their aim was to improve the public space and the health of the elderly, and at the same time adding value to the care centre by making the apartments more attractive to potential tenants.

    Problems turn into opportunities
    Soon the idea arose to make use of the enclosed atrium of the Tolsteeg centre. This was a bricked-in, narrow and bare space between two walkways, with just some plastic potted plants for decoration. It had been an eyesore for the residents for a long time. Because the space was covered with a glass roof, it was a challenge to get the light and temperature right. But Stadslandbouw Utrecht was inspired by the study Green Light for the care for the elderly and asked the researchers from Knooppunt Bouwen met Groen in Utrecht, to investigate the possibility of an edible interior garden in this spot. It would be an excellent opportunity to connect the desire for more greenery with the glass roof of the existing building and, at the same time, realize the results and knowledge gathered in the study.

    Indoor garden as meeting place
    The first results weren’t hopeful. The conditions for an edible garden in the courtyard were difficult because of the differences in temperature during the year and the minimal amount of daylight entering the narrow space. However, the spot did offer the opportunity for an enclosed garden with subtropical plants, which would make it an attractive spot for residents to meet and socialize.

    Nowadays the atrium, that once was so unattractive, has been transformed into a lively green oasis. The project was partly financed by the owner of the complex and a design was drawn up. An army of enthusiastic volunteers, that continues to grow to this day, helped construct the garden during special neighbourhood gardening days.

    For a group of elderly who have difficulty getting about and can’t make it outside without help, this indoor garden has become a favourite meeting place. It has enlarged their world and stimulates them to take walks. The atrium has been turned from an eyesore into a lush interior garden that pleases the eye. It was officially opened at the beginning of 2015.

    Outdoor edible garden
    Besides the indoor garden, there was also a wish for changing a part of the grounds into a vegetable patch, where greens en herbs could be grown for the restaurant of the complex that also caters to people from the neighbourhood. Stichting Stadslandbouw Utrecht managed this project, and volunteering representatives from the neighbourhood made the garden into “De Tolsteegtuin”. With financial support by Axion Continue a gardener could be hired to take care of maintenance.

    Source: intogreen.nl

  • Central Scotland Green Network launches Ideas Fund 2016

    #Funding #Green ideas #Green network #Scotland

    Innovative concepts and projects across Central Scotland are invited to enter a competition to win up to £5,000 funding from the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Ideas Fund 2016.

    Now in its fourth year, the CSGN Ideas Fund supports the development of pioneering greenspace and green infrastructure projects.

    To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, applicants to the 2016 Fund should have a creative professional at the heart of the idea, and it must make a positive contribution to greenspace or green infrastructure in the region.

    Entries should be submitted by noon on 6 June to CSGN. Three shortlisted projects will go forward for presentation at this year’s CSGN Forum, which is set to take place in Glasgow on 21 June and will look at the pivotal role of artists and designers in creating vibrant places for people to live and enjoy.

    The sixth annual CSGN Forum will feature contributions from acclaimed designers and artists including international landscape architect Andrew Grant and urban design champion Wayne Hemingway.

    Representatives of the three shortlisted Ideas Fund projects will be invited to present their proposals and answer questions from the audience at the Forum. Conference delegates will then vote for their favourite concept and the winner will be awarded up to £5,000 to develop their project.

    The decision on the value of funding will be made by Keith Geddes, chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Trust after the conference, depending on the viability and costs to take the project forward.

    Geddes said: “As Europe’s largest greenspace initiative, we aim to support organisations in delivering the green network on the ground. The CSGN Ideas Fund is an excellent platform which encourages creativity in greenspace and green infrastructure thinking and we’re looking forward to seeing what this year’s entries bring.”

    The 2015 Winners

    Last year’s winner was Buglife Scotland. It was awarded £5,000 for its John Muir Way Pollinator Vision which aimed to work with communities to conserve wild pollinator populations including bees, hoverflies and butterflies along the John Muir Way.

    The two runners up were Greenspace Scotland for its Young Place Changers project and the Oat Library initiative by award-winning artist studio NADFLY.

    The Oat Library aimed to lend the rural experience to the city. Pocket fields of oats would grow in urban neighbourhoods and contain sculptures, so people could “mindfully” immerse themselves in the crop. When the oats are harvested, the bounty would be shared with the city through a huge communal breakfast in the heart of Glasgow.

    Source: hortweek.com

  • A Landscape Architect Redesigns The Medieval Medicinal Garden

    #Benefits of green #biodiversity #Plants and flowers

    Centuries ago, doctors only had botanicals at their disposal. They cultivated so-called physic gardens that contained dozens—and sometimes hundreds—of medicinal plants and used them to concoct remedies. At its new campus in Basel, Switzerland, the pharmaceutical company Novartis spoke to the history of medicine by resurrecting the idea, building a modern physic garden that melds contemporary design with traditional plants used for healing.

    Landscape architect Thorbjörn Andersson and engineering firm Sweco conceived of the garden as a green space where the company’s scientists could take a break from their work inside, walk around, and let the beauty of plants inspire their next breakthrough. “The physic garden displays plants important to the development of the pharmaceutical industry,” Andersson writes in the project’s description. “In that sense, the physic garden can be said to represent the cradle of the company’s products and the soul of its activities.”

    The garden bed is recessed and bridges criss-cross the over its plants and flowers, which change with the seasons. The botanic medley—70 types in all—includes orange calendulas and purple irises that bloom in the summer months; white snowdrops and Christmas roses emerge in winter. The plants each have their own medicinal properties, like fennel which is used as an anti-inflammatory agent.

    Source and pictures: fastcodesign.com

  • Detroit announces $12M plan to renovate 40 city parks

    #city parks #Detroit #green development

    Some much-needed improvements are on the way  for about 40 of Detroit’s parks and neighborhood playgrounds.

    The city reopened Henry Tuttle Park last summer on Detroit’s northwest side and a short drive away, there is Simmons Playground where renovations are set to begin this July.

    “We do need some basketball hoops and the swings need to be upgraded,” said Faye Spivey, a resident.

    Mayor Mike Duggan announced a plan to invest $11.7 million to improve 40 parks throughout Detroit. The renovations are scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2018.

    “Three years ago, this park and others like it all over the city were not maintained at all,” Duggan said.

    Duggans said it is a great step in rebuilding the neighborhoods, but some Detroiters say that some responsiblity falls on residents to also help maintain them and not leave trash or abuse city parks.

    “It is very important that they stay clean along with the neighbors in the community, and the city helping out. we should be able to maintain and keep our community clean,” Spivey said.

    City leaders say renovating the parks and addressing the blight you see, will go hand-in-hand.”

    charlie beckham
    group executive for neighborhoods

    “We’ll be taking care of these houses probably most of the summer,” said Charlie Beckham, group executive for neighborhoods. “The ones you see are boarded up, we’re going to be checking our logs to see if they’re owned privately or if we own them in the land bank. If we own them in the land bank, we can move them a lot faster.”

  • Children who feel closer to nature do better in exams

    #Benefits of green #health benefits

    New research shows that children who feel a strong connection to nature tend to perform well in key stage 2 Sats

    Children who feel connected to nature achieve better results in their key stage 2 tests than those who do not, research has found.

    Psychologists from the University of Derby questioned 775 pupils from 15 primary schools. They asked a number of questions, intending to establish how much of a connection the children felt with nature.

    Pupils were asked to say how much they agreed with certain statements. These included: “I like to hear different sounds in nature”; “When I feel sad, I like to go outside into nature”; “Being in the natural environment makes me feel peaceful”; and “I like to garden”.

    Dr Miles Richardson, who led the research project, found that children who exhibited a high level of connection to nature performed significantly better than other children in their English key stage 2 tests. They also performed slightly better in maths tests.

    Those children with a connection to nature also tended to exhibit higher levels of wellbeing than their classmates. “That connection to nature is part of a healthy and satisfied life,” Dr Richardson said.

    He is quick to insist that what is being measured is not how much time children spend in nature, but the quality of their connection with it. “It’s that feeling of having a relationship to the wider ecology – enjoying it, and finding wonder and awe. An emotional experience in the natural world,” he said.

    “You don’t need a wilderness or a fantastic rural environment to experience a connection to nature. You can find it in very modest places: in the park, or in the flowers on the trees in the car park.”

    The Derby psychologists are looking into ways they might be able to help pupils to develop and improve their appreciation of nature. They are currently investigating whether it would be better to teach children about plants and animals, or whether their appreciation for nature would be better developed through arts-based activities, such as nature drawing.

    But Joe Hayman, chief executive of the PSHE Association, points out that it can be difficult to tell whether there is a direct causal relationship between pupil wellbeing and academic outcomes. Often, for example, a school with high levels of pupil wellbeing also provides strong academic education.

    However, he added: “There’s quite clear evidence linking pupil wellbeing and academic achievement.”

  • A green urban oasis in the heart of Brisbane

    #city of the future #social cohesion #urban green

    One of Brisbane’s largest inner city urban renewal projects, the $600 million South City Square, will create an urban oasis in the heart of Woolloongabba.

    Developers Pellicano and Perri Projects have been granted masterplan approval for their 2.14ha development site on the corner of Logan Rd and Deshon St which will include six residential high-rises, one hotel, a host of retail and open space.

    Pellicano’s managing director Nando Pellicano said Brisbane City Council’s approval of the masterplan confirmed the projects partners vision.

    “Currently planned to be a seven-year project, we are excited to announce that construction across stage one is already underway with the project’s first residential offering currently slated for completion in April 2017,” he said.

    As well as offering more than 850 apartments and a 144-room hotel the site will have 13,000sq m of retail including a full-line underground supermarket and an eight-screen boutique cinema, along with provisions for a medical centre, health and wellness precinct, childcare centre, central marketplace, cafes, restaurants and landscaped surrounds. In addition the project will deliver 1500 underground car spaces.

    Designed by a hat includes Woods Bagot, DBI, Six Degrees and Oculus, South City Square has been planned around a 5000sq m publicly-accessible city square, representing about 25 per cent of the entire site. A further 20 per cent of the site is dedicated to further public landscaped areas and subtropical plantings, creating a lush green environment.

  • An amazing new project is taking place to redesign the Broad Walk of London

    #green city #green development #london

    Kew’s Broad Walk is undergoing a complete redesign to create stunning new herbaceous borders, full of vibrant summer flowers and topiary trees. There’s also the unique opportunity to sponsor one of 18 new benches to be placed along the borders.

    Kew is embarking on a major new project to create the longest double herbaceous borders in the UK. Stretching for over 300 metres along either side of the Broad Walk from the Orangery to the Palm House Pond, these borders will be planted with swathes of vibrant summer flowering perennials, grasses and bulbs to form a spectacular new horticultural feature. Selected plants from Kew’s botanical collections will also be incorporated into the planting design. The first phase of this project is the resurfacing of the Broad Walk path with a resin bound gravel surface, edged with brick.

    The Broad Walk is currently closed while this resurfacing work takes place and improved drainage is added. The path is due to reopen in mid-April, after which an irrigation system will be installed and then a green manure crop sown, to enrich the soil ready for planting. New plants will begin to arrive in autumn 2015 and planting will continue until early summer 2016. Topiary yew pyramids will be planted along each side of the path to emphasise perspective and give some evergreen structure to the scheme. The completed borders can be enjoyed from July 2016 and in subsequent years as the planting establishes and matures.

    This redevelopment is being funded through generous private donations, and a grant from Defra for the resurfacing of the path.

    source: kew.com