Across Greater Manchester, our environment is hard at work. Our trees clean the air and help to prevent flooding across the city region. They can also make our streets quieter, cooler and more resilient to climate change. Wildlife corridors provide ways for insects, amphibians and small mammals to move around freely. Our environment helps to look after all living things.
But what’s not all nature does for us.
In recent years, several studies have looked at the benefits that having access to good quality greenspace can have on our mental and physical health. Doctors are actually prescribing ‘nature therapy’ for those who are experiencing periods of low mental health – across greater Manchester, 8,000 people in our city region received social prescriptions like this last year.
Take a look at how our environment can make us happier and healthier.
Bringing us back to nature
The IGNITION project, which is working to build climate resilience across Greater Manchester, recently collected a vast body evidence on nature-based solutions. Amongst a whole host of areas, the project looked at how nature-based solutions, such as trees and greenspaces, affects our health.
Here’s what they found:
- Good access to greenspace can increase physical activity by 24%
- Exercising in greenspaces at least once a week can reduce your risk of poor mental health by 50%
- More and good-quality greenspace can help create social ties and create a sense of community
- Street trees can help to reduce crime levels: a 10% increase in tree canopy can lead to a 12% decrease in crime in an area
The project has been working with youth organisations across Greater Manchester to understand how access to greenspace, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown has affected. There is a raft of anecdotal evidence to suggest people feel more at ease when they live near good-quality parks and outdoor spaces.
One example of this is West Gorton’s Grow Green initiative. West Gorton in Manchester was selected to develop nature-based solutions park aimed at the people of West Gorton. Its vision was to make green and blue spaces a permanent feature of all urban areas around the world, creating harmony between people, economy and the environment, for the benefit of all.
Many people in West Gorton experience poverty and challenges with their health, but with the project now complete and with the park open to everyone, Grow Green will be working with the local community to ensure that the space offers the opportunity to hold community events, grow your own produce and be a safe, quiet space to relax in.
We can all play our part for nature. Find out small actions that you can help the environment in your area.
We’d love to hear your positive experiences of nature in Greater Manchester! Let us know on our Twitter account at @GMGreenCity.