In a world where the news is filled with doom and gloom, especially where our planet is concerned, we thought we’d focus on some of the great things that have happened in 2015, promoting positive change! 

 

Projects

The Low Line, a project through the heart of Bank side in London is being explored as a way of connecting Vauxhall and London Bridge along the existing railway infrastructure with the viaducts acting as a hub. The hope is to regenerate the area by providing a base for small business to thrive whilst increasing mobility for pedestrians and cyclists along the route.

For smaller projects, £1.5 million has been made available in the UK by the Department for Communities and local government to fund pocket park projects. Hopefully we’ll start to see these springing up more often!

 

Research and Awareness

Only last week, we wrote a piece about how excited we are about the release of the Green Infrastructure Task Force report, a vision for London in 2050. This plan looks at creating enough green space to combat the effects of climate change and become a more pedestrian friendly city.

 

COP21 (21st Conference of the Parties) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was also held in Paris last week, where an overall agreement was made to stop global warming rising more than 2c. This vision needs to be worked on fast for it to be effective, which leaves us hopeful that change in environmental policy is imminent!

As you probably know (due to us showing off a lot on Twitter!) we were lucky enough to attend Europe's 1st Urban Green Infrastructure Conference in Vienna last month. It was an amazing opportunity to meet and hear from such a diverse group of people from different countries and disciplines, who all had the same objective. We brought home with us much inspiration and are excited to be part of this network to bring about change!

Overall there has been a significant rise in biodiversity awareness, especially in urban environments and not just countryside habitats - we love bees! A study this year also revealed that children's mental health and wellbeing improved when exposed to more green space during school, all in all proving that the true value of green space is being realised!

  

Policy

Proof that all of these projects and research are making people stand up and listen, is shown by legislation brought in this year by the French Government. The law now states that all commercial buildings going forward must have either a green or solar panelled roof-imagine how green our urban landscape would become if this was implemented in the UK?!

An approach already used in both America and parts of Europe, though not yet legislation, The UK Parks Alliance is calling for ‘green prescriptions’ for patients-a chance to spend time with nature as a way of healing both mental and physical health.    

And finally, more and more often we are seeing landscape architects play a critical role in getting new buildings and infrastructure projects through planning with the implementation of more green space with assistance from the Landscape Institute who have been promoting Green infrastructure within Government.

Horticulture has an opportunity to provide natural solutions to a warming climate and help mitigate some of the effects of climate change within our cities and landscapes. Recent flooding in Cumbria has highlighted our vulnerability to dramatic rain events and has kickstarted the discussion about reforestation of our uplands.

 

If all of this can happen in one year, then surely we have a good chance of combating climate change and making our planet a better place? A group of scientists have declared 2016 ‘The Year of Global Understanding’ their mission to “translate scientific information into more sustainable lifestyles”. Here’s to a green 2016-spread the word!