Agriculture 20121016-155734.jpg

Published on October 16th, 2012 | by James Ayre


Cities Will Greatly Benefit from More Greenery as Urban Areas Rapidly Expand, UN Report Finds

October 16th, 2012 by  

As urban areas of the world continue to grow, there is a great opportunity to improve cities, making them healthier for people, simply by increasing greenery, according to a study released by the UN on Monday.


It’s been estimated that urban areas will more than double in size by 2030. With proper measures in place, this growth can greatly improve the quality of life for those living in cities.

Some of those measures are to increase parks, trees, and rooftop gardens and greenery. These actions can, somewhat surprisingly, go a long way towards decreasing city pollution, as well as helping to protect local plants and animals. This is considered especially important in rapidly growing nations like China and India, where city growth can occur practically overnight.

Rich biodiversity can exist in cities and is extremely critical to people’s health and well-being,” wrote Thomas Elmqvist of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, scientific editor of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook.

Urban populations throughout the world are expected to dramatically rise in the coming years, from around 3.5 billion currently to over 4.9 billion by 2030, according to the assessment by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

And the area that these cities take up is expected to rise expand by at least 150 percent.

“Most of this growth is expected to happen in small and medium-sized cities, not in megacities,” according to the report, issued to coincide with a UN meeting on biodiversity in Hyderabad, India.

By adding more greenery to cities, significant amounts of pollution and dust can be filtered out of the air fairly well and do some to limit the heat-trapping effects of local carbon dioxide emissions. There has been some recent research that has shown that the local presence of trees can do a decent job of reducing asthma and allergies for children living nearby.

The study also makes the point that cities are currently serving as the environment to a wide assortment of plants and animals.

Incredibly, “more than 65 percent of Poland’s bird species are found in Warsaw. In South Africa, Table Mountain national park, rich in wildlife, is surrounded by the Cape Town municipality. In the United States, Saguaro national park is just outside Tucson.”

“Sustainable urban development that supports valuable ecosystems presents a major opportunity for improving lives and livelihoods,” said Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme.

Increased tree cover in cities also works pretty well to reduce city temperatures during the summers, potentially saving on cooling costs and electricity use for the cities inhabitants.

“Recent studies highlight the importance of even small urban gardens in providing habitat for native pollinators such as bees, which have declined alarmingly in recent years,” the study added.

It’s also easy to argue for the economic benefits of adding greenery. In the United States, “city parks increase the value of nearby residential properties by an average of 5 percent; excellent parks can provide a 15 percent increase.”

And one of the most important reasons for increasing the greenery in cities is that, as urban areas expand, agricultural area is being lost, and there is going to have to be a shift in where agriculture occurs if such growth is to continue.

“For the next 40 years urban growth will consume land approximately three times the size of France … this is often the most prime agricultural land,” Elmqvist said.

Currently, there are many cities that are already taking measures to become greener. “In Bogota, Colombia, residents exercised more after city authorities introduced measures such as closing some roads on weekends and improving bus transport.”

And in Mexico City, a new “Green Roof Program” is planning to create at least 10,000 square meters (107,000 sq ft) of rooftop agriculture every year.

Source: Reuters
Image Credits: Rockefeller via Wikimedia Commons

Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • wattleberry

    No mention was made of vertical hydroponic ‘gardens’ on walls. Has this actually been adopted anywhere yet?

  • StefanoR99

    It’s a great concept but it’s always overlooked by planning officials and developers who take the “cover it with as much concrete as possible” approach because they equate every sqft to the same value.

    No one seems to realise in urban development that if you increase green space, the value of the property around and near that green space increases astronomically. Just look at NY central park…

    We need more Parks and Recreation! 🙂

    • As a planner by training, i have to say that almost all the planners i know are big fans and proponents of parks & greenspace. Actually, wouldn’t be many of those at all if it weren’t for planners. 😀

      • StefanoR99

        That’s awesome to know 🙂 Have to lay the blame at the door of property developers then… Everyone wants to live near a big green area, cities need more.

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Energy Storage USA, June 15–16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    American Renewable Energy Day Summit Storage USA, June 20-24, Snowmass, Colorado (US)
    The American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI) brings together thought leaders and experts to foster climate change solutions.

    InterSolar North America, July 12–14, San Francisco, California (US)
    The most-attended solar event in the US. We’ll be there– will you?

    EES North America, July 12–14, San Francisco, California (US)
    International exhibition for batteries and storage, co-located with InterSolar.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 FAQ … Answered!

    Tesla Model 3 side
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

  • Search the IM Network