Study reveals Britain’s greenest cities – and they’re all in the south | Parks and green spaces

A new study revealing Britain’s greenest cities could lead to a rise in urban ecotourism.

Exeter has the greenest heart of all British cities, the new piece of research has found, followed by Islington in north London, Bristol, Bournemouth and Cambridge.

In the first study of its kind, the researchers analyzed 68 urban centers with a population of at least 100,000, ranking them according to tree cover, vegetation, parks and sports fields.

Lead researcher Jake Robinson said urban greening is booming in cities, with hotels enhancing their sustainability and attractiveness by including green roofs and walls that attract butterflies and bees.

“Some cities in our study are quite lush and green, which could lead to a growth in ‘urban ecotourism’, where people vacation in cities to experience the awe of urban nature,” he said.

“Cities are global tourist hotspots and are increasingly emphasizing their natural areas to increase their appeal. Improving our urban green spaces also attracts beautiful wildlife. This provides an extra wow factor for visitors, but also plays a vital role in conserving biodiversity.

“Green spaces and trees can also reduce noise and air pollution, which can only improve the comfort of your city break.”

The results, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, reveal that the greenest urban centers are all in the south of the country. All the lowest ranked cities are in former industrial areas in northern Britain: Glasgow was rated the least green urban centre, followed by Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds.

“Green spaces have been shown time and time again to increase people’s well-being and are essential for biodiversity, yet no one has ever considered how green our city centers are, despite the amount of time people spend there on a daily basis,” he said dr. Brindley of the University of Sheffield’s landscape architecture department, senior author of the study.

In addition to the geographic gap, the research also uncovered a statistical link between a lower green score and higher levels of deprivation. “These disparities clearly highlight the need to urgently improve the greening of inner cities at the bottom of the list and to ensure local authorities take action to close the gap,” said Brindley.

Amal Ghusain, Exeter’s chief councilor for city management and environmental services, said her council had worked hard to protect the city’s green spaces. “We have the benefit of a number of open green spaces, including our six Exeter Valley Parks, managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust, sports fields, 1,400 allotments and a number of leafy cemeteries,” he said.

“Our parks help break up the urban nature of the city and we understand their importance for mental health, well-being and to help us with our carbon neutral agenda.”

Rowena Champion, Islington Council Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality and Transport, was also enthusiastic about the research. “Islington is one of the most densely populated local authorities in Britain and only 13% of the borough’s land is green space, which is why it’s so important that we do the best with what we have, to deliver better health outcomes for all.” , he has declared. she said.

Sheffield city center from an urban wildflower meadow. Photograph: Deborah Vernon/Alamy

“We’ve taken bold steps to help reach this goal, including planting more than 700 trees last year – which increased our canopy cover by 25% – and recently joining the Mayor of London’s Trees for Streets programme, in so local people can help get more trees into the ground. Through our Greener Together program, which has funded 38 community-led green projects, we support local people to bring their green ideas to life.”

Despite Sheffield’s low score for inner city greenery, the study researchers emphasized that the wider city is renowned as the greenest city in the country overall.

“Sheffield is a spectacular city for green spaces, with the Peak District on its doorstep and more trees per person than any other city in Europe. However, its downtown isn’t very green compared to other city centers,” Brindley said. “This was one of our most surprising discoveries. But it highlights why the study is so important and the vital need to identify green space inequalities even in less obvious places and promote measures to address them.

If the study is repeated next year, however, Sheffield could find itself projected to the top of the list. “Work is already being done in central Sheffield,” Brindley said, “to bring it into line with its leafy suburbs and extensive parks within walking distance making it the greenest anywhere in the UK.”

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