Terms associated with urban green spaces

Table of Contents:

This refers to a careful management of forest cover in urban areas (Costello, 1993). Urban forestry is the management of trees for their contribution to the physiological, sociological and economic well-being of the urban society (Sinha, 2013). Urban forestry deals with woodlands, groups of trees and individual trees where people live. Urban forestry and urban greening concentrate on all tree-dominated as well as other green resources in and around urban areas, such as woodlands, public and private urban parks and gardens, urban nature areas, street tree and square plantations, botanical gardens and cemeteries. Urban forestry is the art, science and technology of managing trees and forest resources in and around urban community ecosystems for physiological, sociological, economic and aesthetic benefits that trees provide to society (Miller, 1997). The concept of urban forestry was first introduced by Jorgensen at the University of Toronto, Canada. The urban environment can present many arboricultural challenges, such as limited root and canopy space, poor soil quality, deficiency or excess of water and light, heat, pollution, mechanical and chemical damage to trees and mitigation of tree-related hazards. Urban forestry also deals with challenges like lack of favourable policies, planning and design related to urban forests and other vegetation. It also needs experts to select and establish tree resources and other vegetation for urban environments. Delhi is already facing the problem of low green space; therefore, before the city expands further, a proper plan for greening in the city should be in place, especially with respect to land availability in the form of parks and gardens, forest patches and roadside plantations. Planning is important because trees are very often considered as an afterthought once development has taken place, rather than being incorporated in the original design phase. For effective, planned and systematic management of trees in cities, a measure of legal control is also necessary. Recently, the concept of social forestry and community forestry has also emerged. Social forestry means forestry catering to social needs and uses (Konijnendijk et al., 2013). Community forestry is considered when forestry is done by direct participation of local people. These two concepts originated for primarily rural areas but very recently, it has been applied in many urban areas too.

According to Konijenendijk et al., the key strengths of a good approach for urban forestry are:

  • 1. It is integrative, incorporating different elements of urban green structures into a whole.
  • 2. It is strategic, aimed at developing longer-term policies and plans for urban tree resources, connecting to different sectors, agendas and programs.
  • 3. It is aimed at delivering multiple benefits, stressing the economic, environmental and socio-cultural goods and services urban forests can provide.
  • 4. It is multidisciplinary and aims to become interdisciplinary, involving experts from natural and social sciences.
  • 5. It is participatory, targeted at developing partnerships between all stakeholders.

Urban forestry should have indigenous and native plants and trees. Sufficient budget allocation with innovative techniques should be used to develop urban forestry. It is important to educate and involve the community and residents of the area with regard to plantation drives and management of trees.

Urban agriculture

The Habitat II conference recognises urban agriculture as a realistic and desirable land use option in urban areas and an integral part of the urban system. The World Summit (FAO, 1996) concluded that food and nutrition polices should, among others, include a concept for enhancement of the urban agriculture production. Global initiative for urban agriculture was created in March 1996 at the third meeting of the Urban Agriculture Support Group.

A definition of urban agriculture was presented in the Cities Feeding People (CFP) report series by Mougeot. It says urban agriculture is an industry located within (intra-urban) or on the fringe (peri-urban) of a town, an urban centre, a city or metropolis, which grows or raises, processes and distributes a diversity of food and non-food products, (re-)using mainly human and material resources, inputs and services found in and around that urban area, and in turn supplying human and material resources, outputs and services largely to that urban area. A drastically increasing number of civil and natural disasters disrupt food production and affect supply lines to cities, thereby resulting into wiping out crops or increasing food prices. Urban agriculture can prove to be of a great help in such situations. City-ward emigration of rural youths affects rural production in the longer term, which is still largely small-scaled and labour-intensive. It can help in sustaining a range of new industries and employment opportunities in and near cities.

The Council of Agriculture, Science and Technology in 2013 defined urban agriculture as a complex system encompassing a spectrum of interests, from a traditional core of activities associated with the production, processing, marketing, distribution and consumption, to a multiplicity of other benefits and services that are less widely acknowledged and documented. These include recreation and leisure; economic vitality and business entrepreneurship, individual health and well-being; community health and well-being; landscape beautification; and environmental restoration and remediation (Butler, and Moronek, 2002).

Urban agriculture should always be an integral part of the city system. It not only makes a city self-reliant to some extent, but also conditions and nourishes the urban nutrient system. Urban agriculture enables the continued production of rare varieties of fruit or vegetables that may be exquisitely adapted to local conditions. It adds to diversity of peri- or intra-urban crops and croplands. This can further attract a greater variety of bird and animal life that the same lands in more ‘normal’ urban use. Urban nutrient recycling programs may lower both operating costs for farmers and food prices for the consumers. Fossil fuel use for transportation generates about a third of global carbon dioxide emissions (a ‘forcing mechanism’ in climate change), and global trade alone accounts for 1/8 of world energy use (Goldsmith, 1996). Moreover, locally produced foods require less packaging and refrigeration and other preservation measures, thus reducing the packaging waste stream, energy use and the chemical load in foodstuffs. According to Russo et al. (2017), edible green infrastructure is a must for future compact cities to meet the challenge of food insecurity and hunger. Such cities would have potential to improve resilience and quality of life. Edible green infrastructure is a sustainable planned network of edible food components and structures within the urban ecosystem which are managed and designed to provide primarily provisioning ecosystem services... Typologies are based upon one macro category (i.e., edible green infrastructure and urban agriculture) as well as eight sub-classifications: (1) edible urban forests and edible urban greening, (2) edible forest gardens, (3) historic gardens and parks and botanic gardens, (4) school gardens, (5) allotment gardens and community gardens, (6) domestic and home gardens, (7) edible green roofs and vegetable rain gardens and (8) edible green walls and facades (Russo et al., 2017).

Urban parks

Urban or public parks offer recreation and open green space to the residents of the cities. Urban parks are defined as delineated open space areas, mostly dominated by vegetation and water, and generally reserved for public use... Urban parks are mostly larger, but can also have the shape of smaller‘pocket parks’ (IFPRA, 2013). Urban parks are usually locally defined (by authorities) as ‘parks’. Such spaces are generally owned or maintained by the local government. These spaces have grasses, trees, and small insects in their biome. These spaces are used for relaxing, fitness, playing or for picnic. Urban parks not only symbolise beauty but also play a very vital role in the health of residents living within their impact area. ‘Parks are about so much more than our aesthetics and beauty, as important as that is. Parks are about healthy neighbourhoods. They are intimately tied to the health of their neighbourhoods. Parks promote community building, social capital and even in ways we’re only just beginning to understand, our physical health’ (Shakarian, 2014). Parks refresh and rejuvenate mind and body. Morning and evening walks, yoga, recreational areas for kids, all keep people fit and healthy.

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