Urban Vegetation refers to the total assemblage of plants (including urban forest) within and on the perimeter of cities and towns. This includes a diversity of plants in a wide range of habitats.
They are established and managed for a variety of reasons, and exhibit economic, social, aesthetic and ecological value. Grass, shrubs, trees, secondary forests, trees over shrubs are some types of Urban Vegetation providing ecosystem services in Urban areas.
Urban vegetation plays a significant role in the protection of biodiversity and maintenance of ecological processes and life-support systems. When it comes to social value, urban vegetation contributes to quality of life through its influence on the psychological and physiological well-being of individuals.
Overall, vegetation is shown to be a significant, if not essential, component of the urban environment. The rationale for the inclusion of vegetation planning and management as an integral part of the urban planning process is thereby very important for the coming times.
Core Benefits of Urban Vegetation:
1. Health and WellBeing: Access to nature and green spaces in urban environments contributes directly to public health by reducing stress, encouraging physical activity, improving the living environment and enhancing city-dwellers’ feeling of wellbeing.
Urban vegetation also contributes in maintaining good Air-Quality in the polluted Urban areas having a positive impact on public health. Strong benefits have been linked with access to a park and with the presence of vegetation in urban environments.
Survey shows that the presence of a park in the neighbourhood can increase physical activities of the Individuals and reduce health diseases such as Obesity.
A green space not only provides a location for the activity – it can also create motivation, especially if the quality of the site is perceived as good by users.
Some other benefits of green spaces in the Urban area are longevity, reduction in Cardio-Vascular symptoms and stress and improved state of Mental Health.
2. Social Cohesion: Green Spaces can contribute in strengthening the connectivity and solidarity among groups in the society by providing for a common space for the society.
Community attachment seems to be strengthened by the presence of good-quality green spaces close to dense residential areas. However, green spaces that are heavily or overused can have the opposite effect, associated with a demand for new amenities.
3. Biodiversity: Maintaining Biodiversity has become a matter of concern in recent times, especially in the Urban environment.
Understanding the value of biodiversity through the services it provides plays a key role in promoting the integration of plant life in urban environments.
We are witnessing a decrease in species diversity as Urbanisation is increasing. A scientific research undertaken in France as part of the Trame Verte Urbaine (urban greenways) study has shown the key importance of connecting parks together for urban biodiversity, creating multipurpose networks that address both environmental and social challenges.
4. Natural Balance: Urban Vegetation reduces Urban Heat Island effect and improves buildings energy efficiency. The Urban heat island effect is the imbalance in temperature between the rural and Urban areas. This imbalance is harmful because it has a negative impact on health and climate.
The presence of Green space in Urban areas can reduce this imbalance because when plants transpire they release water into the atmosphere and when this water evaporates it uses energy, cooling down the environment.
Urban vegetation also helps in regulating floods and protecting soil. Parks, Urban forests etc. all provide permeable surfaces for water to percolate and prevent surface water runoff.
Plant cover protects the soil from the erosion and subsidence caused by rainfall and rainfall drainage. The root system of the urban plant life creates a protective architectural structure in the soil, adding a further layer of protection against erosion.