Wageningen UR is working on a better use of knowledge about the benefits of urban green for health and well-being

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Wageningen UR is working on a better use of knowledge about the benefits of urban green for health and well-being

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11 november 2015

Urban green appears to be very beneficial to human health and well-being. The knowledge on ‘green benefits’ is still expanding, but it is not well organised and therefore rather inaccessible for city planners, designers, urban green managers and others. In order to be able to use and apply this knowledge more effectively, Wageningen UR researchers and students at VHL University of Applied Sciences are teaming up to document the benefits of green in urban environments over the next three years.

The research is being made possible by a Public Private Partnership (PPP). This project is not about developing new knowledge, but about making existing academic and practical knowledge more accessible. By summarising this knowledge and translating it into practical tips, it will be possible to put the positive effects of green in the cities to better use. 

Urban green: from costs to benefits

In the past, green spaces were mainly regarded as items of expense. Nowadays more attention is being focused on the benefits of green: the positive effects on health and well-being, contributions to water storage and air quality, improving city climate, and so on. The knowledge relating to these benefits – the ‘ecosystem services’ that urban green can provide – continues to expand but it is fragmentary and decentralised; in other words, it is difficult for designers and green space managers to obtain a clear picture of that knowledge. Decisions on green space design, layout and maintenance can only be made if the potential benefits of green are understood, so there is much need for practical and accessible know-how. Suppliers and retailers of nursery tree products also prefer to know more about the potential contribution that individual species can make to specific green benefits. Customers who require certain positive effects can then be better informed. In short, this recently started project will remedy two deficiencies.

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Designers, green space managers and tree growers

This initiative focuses on the development of instruments which will allow potential green benefits to be better weighed up when taking decisions on design, policy and maintenance of green spaces. However, it should also contribute to the development of knowledge which will allow tree growers to produce the range of species they wish to market, while taking account of the specific functions people require of urban green.

Scientific and practical knowledge

This project aims to summarise, evaluate and integrate all relevant academic and practical knowledge available nationally and internationally. In addition, research is being carried out into several specific topics in order to quantify the contribution of individual tree species to the development of specific ecosystem services. The knowledge and information thus accumulated will be made accessible in fact sheets and in the knowledge database arising from The Green Agenda project.

The research has been requested by FloraHolland and the iVerde foundation as part of their joint programme The Green Agenda. This is being financed by the Horticulture and Propagation Materials top sector, and by the Horticulture Marketing Board. The Hague municipality is also helping to finance the project, as well as being a project partner.