How does nature benefit people?
Nature can help us tackle all kinds of challenges our society faces.
For example, we know that green spaces improve air quality, water quality, health and wellbeing and decrease levels of stress. Nature also has a vital role in pollination, which we rely on for much of our food. And in cities it can help reduce the heat island effect and decrease surface area run-off, cutting flood risk.
Studies have mapped the cooling effect of green spaces in the Victoria area of London and shown how they decrease surface area run-off. This is important as the aim is to reduce the volume of water that has to be pumped out from Victoria Station, meaning decreased pumping costs and energy use for TfL. It also means less disruption for passengers.
Manchester is another great example. They have found that increasing tree cover in the city by 10% could counteract the heat island effect, which is predicted to become more severe with climate change. This means that by planting more trees, Manchester would be able to keep the city cooler, making the nights more comfortable, decreasing the need for air conditioners (reducing energy use) and potentially resulting in fewer excess deaths as a result of heatwaves.
In the past it was assumed that people didn’t appreciate the wide-ranging benefits nature brings, but our research shows they know it helps them in lots of ways. It also shows people want investment in nature close to them – in their local community.