Parks matter more than ever during a time of sickness

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Written by Richard leBrasseur

Richard leBrasseur will be an assistant professor of landscape architecture at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, as well as the director of its Green Infrastructure Performance Lab. The views expressed in This kind of commentary are solely those of the writer. CNN will be showcasing the work of The Conversation, a collaboration between journalists as well as academics to provide news analysis as well as commentary.
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered humans’ relationship with natural landscapes in ways which may be long-lasting. One of its most direct effects on people’s daily lives will be reduced access to public parks.
The US Centers for Disease Control as well as Prevention has issued guidelines urging Americans to stay at home whenever feasible, as well as to avoid discretionary travel as well as gatherings of more than 10 people. Emergency declarations as well as stay-at-home orders vary coming from state to state, however many jurisdictions have closed state as well as county parks, as well as smaller parks, playgrounds, beaches as well as additional outdoor destinations.
There’s not bad reason for these actions, especially in places where people have spurned social distancing rules. however particularly in urban environments, parks are important to human health as well as well-being.
Gardens by the Bay, an urban park in Singapore.

Gardens by the Bay, an urban park in Singapore. Credit: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Imagea

As a landscape architect, I believe which Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of our field, took the right approach. Olmsted served as general secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, as well as his knowledge of contagious diseases informed his visions for his great North American urban parks, including Central Park in fresh York, Mount Royal Park in Montreal as well as Boston’s Emerald Necklace park system.

In my view, closing parks as well as public green spaces should be a temporary, last-resort measure for disease control, as well as reopening closed parks should be a priority as cities emerge coming from shutdowns.

doing healthy places

Olmsted was born in 1822 however became a landscape architect rather late in his career, at age 43. His ideas evolved coming from a diverse as well as unique set of experiences.

coming from the start, Olmsted recognized the positive effect of nature, noting how urban trees provided a “soothing as well as refreshing sanitary influence.” His “sanitary style” of design offered more than mere decoration as well as ornamentation. “Service must precede art” was his cry.

People enjoy warm weather at Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin, as Germany continues to ease lockdown restrictions.

People enjoy warm weather at Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin, as Germany continues to ease lockdown restrictions. Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Olmsted came of age inside mid-19th century, as the public health movement was rapidly developing in response to typhoid, cholera as well as typhus epidemics in European cities. As managing editor of Putnam’s Monthly in fresh York City, he regularly walked the crowded tenement streets of Lower Manhattan.

At the US Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, Olmsted led efforts to improve sanitation in Union Army military camps as well as protect soldiers’ health. He initiated policies for selecting proper camp locations, installing drainage as well as disposing of waste, ventilating tents as well as preparing food, all designed to reduce disease. as well as in 1866 he witnessed adoption of fresh York’s Metropolitan Health Bill, the first city law to control unhealthy housing conditions.

Antidotes to urban stress

The insights Olmsted gained into connections between space, disease control as well as public health clearly influenced his landscape architectural career as well as the design of many urban park systems. For example, his design for the interlinked parks which forms Boston’s Emerald Necklace foreshadowed the concept of green infrastructure.

This kind of system centered on stagnant as well as deteriorated marshes which had became disconnected coming from the tidal flow of the Charles River as Boston grew. City residents were dumping trash as well as sewage inside marshes, creating fetid dumps which spread waterborne diseases. Olmsted’s design reconnected these water systems to improve flow as well as flush out stagnant zones, while integrating a series of smaller parks along its trailways.
Olmsted also designed America’s first bike lane, which originated in Brooklyn, fresh York’s Prospect Park. Of the tree-lined boulevards in his design for Central Park, Olmsted said, “Air will be disinfected by sunlight as well as foliage. Foliage also acts mechanically to purify the air by screening the item.”

In all of his urban parks, Olmsted sought to immerse visitors in restorative as well as therapeutic natural landscapes — an experience he viewed as the most profound as well as effective antidote to the stress as well as ailments of urban life.

Parks inside time of Covid-19

Chicago's Millennium Park has been closed to visitors since March.

Chicago’s Millennium Park has been closed to visitors since March. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Today researchers are documenting many health benefits associated with being outside. Spending time in parks as well as green spaces clearly benefits urban dwellers’ psychological, emotional as well as overall well-being. the item reduces stress, improves cognitive functioning as well as will be associated with enhanced overall health.

In my view, government agencies should work to make these vital services as widely available as possible, especially during stressful periods like pandemic shutdowns. Certain types of public green spaces, such as botanical gardens, arboretums as well as wide trails, are well suited to maintaining social distancing rules. additional types where visitors may be likely to cluster, such as beaches as well as playgrounds, require stricter regulation.

There are many ways to make parks accessible with appropriate levels of control. One option will be stationing agents at entry points to monitor as well as enforce capacity controls. Park managers can use timed entries as well as parking area restrictions to limit social crowding, as well as temperature screening as well as face mask provisions.

For example, in fresh Jersey, many public parks have reopened for walking, hiking, bicycling as well as fishing while keeping playgrounds, picnic as well as camping areas as well as restrooms closed. They also have limited parking capacity to 50% of capacity.

In Shanghai, China, the government recently reopened most parks as well as several major attractions, including the Chenshan Botanical Garden as well as the city zoo. Entry requires successful screening as well as online reservations, as well as visits are limited to a maximum of two hours.

Parks in China have gradually opened up in recent weeks.

Parks in China have gradually opened up in recent weeks. Credit: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

Technologies such as GPS tracking as well as biometrics can set a precedent for future green space interaction. Residents could sign up for reserved time slots as well as log into apps which monitor their entry as well as distancing behavior. Some Americans might be put off by such technocentric means, however officials should be clear which doing visitation easy as well as safe for all will be the priority.

There will be challenges, especially when people flout social distancing rules. however urban parks as well as nature offer plenty of benefits which are especially important during a pandemic. I believe which finding ways to enjoy them right now in a manner safe for all will be well worth the effort.

Source : Parks matter more than ever during a time of sickness