How can we make our parks more sustainable?

Rapid urbanization and catastrophic environmental issues have now led countries to think about their outdoor spaces in a more sustainable way. This is where a rapidly emerging trend of creating sustainable spaces within public parks is becoming popular. Without compromising the aesthetics, sustainable parks lay emphasis on fostering a high-quality life for the citizens and conserving the natural resources, both at the same time.

Creating sustainable parks

A sustainable park needs to strike the right balance between design and ecology. It can be created by following measures like these:

  • Furnish the site with recycled materials - Instead of using wooden benches, parks should have 100% recycled plastic benches or maybe even bio-plastics can be an option. These plastic benches will not only offer high durability but also continue to look impressive and attractive for many years.

  • Retain existing infrastructure - Attaining sustainability doesn’t always mean redesigning the existing layout. More often than not, it’s about using the existing infrastructure more effectively. While constructing sustainable parks, authorities should retain the soil, native plantations, and saturated lands as is. This practice will heavily cut down the cost of setting up new flora, soil types, and habitat.

  • Develop a soil management system - During the construction process, officials should ensure that parks have enough topsoil, which can withstand erosion or compaction. Before bringing in new soil to parks, its quality must be checked. Check specifically for the soil’s nutrients profile, alkalinity and acidity levels, and humus presence. Better the soil health, lessen the need for fertilizers.

  • Beautify with native plants - Choose plants that are highly adaptable to the local climate. With no special requirements for soil, light, fertilizers, and water, these plants will tremendously reduce the natural resource consumption and also the cost of maintenance.

  • Use organic manure - Chemical fertilizers, if used inappropriately, can hamper plant growth. Therefore, authorities should make use of organic manure. Even though organic manure may be costlier than chemical fertilizers, it significantly reduces the need for any additional supplements. Besides, during monsoon, the chemical fertilizers get washed away, thereby degrading the waterways and threatening the aquatic life. Organic manure, on the other hand, does not possess any threat to marine life, even if washed away by the rainwater.

  • Reduce greenhouse emissions - Private vehicles should be forbidden in and around parks. Instead, people should either make use of public transportation or other cleaner modes like bicycles.

  • Optimize the use of water resources - One of the most valuable natural resources, water, can be conserved when creating sustainable parks if we create green infrastructure for stormwater management process. For example, rain gardens, floodplain restoration, or permeable pavements are examples of methods that are highly cost-effective when compared to man-made water collection systems. And Make good use of rainwater through practices like rainwater harvesting. Accumulate rainwater, have inbuilt filtration method, and make the water potable.

  • Install solar panels - By installing solar panels, parks can harvest the solar energy and store it in batteries. The accumulated solar energy can then be used to offer renewable LED lighting at night, thereby reducing power consumption and cost.

A fast evolving trend which is also seen in developed cities is the creation of Sustainable Spaces within parks. According to a world bank blog post, cities like San francisco, Singapore, London to name a few are creating smart sustainable spaces within their city parks. A simple example is providing a mobile charging station which is self sustaining and powered by solar, citizens can now charge their devices. Now what if you can add more like larger device charging, some benches, and possibly a display screen - maybe you can now start building a community around the space.

Urban parks play a crucial role as the lungs of a city. We must strive to make our park more sustainable. The measures shared above would require comprehensive planning to usher in maximum results. To create sustainable parks, enough funds, permissions, and vendors will need to come in. Most of all, without the active participation of local citizens and maintenance staff, the efforts to create sustainable parks will be fruitless.

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Technology for Sustainable Outdoor Spaces