URBAN PLANTS- NEW SOLUTION TO OLD PROBLEMS

What is the oldest living thing in the world that has been taking care of our planet? Apparently, the answer is a Bristlecone Pine, a 5062- year old tree, found in the White mountains of California. Martin Luther hence was not wrong when he said “For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”

The trend of migrating to urban areas has been on an increase in the last few decades. Currently 55% of the world’s population resides in urban areas, as a result, changes in the working style, living standard, building relationships, travelling etc have been commonly observed. Amidst these crucial changes, we have slowly started losing the lungs of our cities a.k.a our urban plants. Only 25% of the native plant species are present in varying urban areas of the world. Urban dwellers are no more conscious of the fact that urban plants not only add beauty to their dull landscape but are also beneficial for the overall development of their areas.

It has become rather easy to forget about those millions of essays that each one of us wrote about the importance of trees and plants in our society. Nevertheless, Treemendous.in is always at its forefront in reminding us the numerous beneficiaries of urban plants which are given below:

1. CITIZENS

  • In densely populated or polluted cities, the level of oxygen is at least 6% lower. In a situation like this, it’s important to remember that one mature leafy tree can produce enough oxygen for at least 10 of us to breathe.
  • Studies have proved that people in direct contact with natural elements are in a better mood and more productive than people being exposed to artificial elements.
  • Plants are not only responsible for soaking up carbon dioxide from air but they also absorb a number of toxins and pollutants emitted by our everyday activities.
  • A life of a plant is often compared to a life cycle of a human- birth, growth, maturity, death and young growth again. This is one of the reasons that humans develop a rare emotional bond with plants and cater to them.
  • Reduction of Cortisol, the stress hormone in our brains is another consequence of being in the presence of urban plants. Reduction of Cortisol directly relates to reduction of anxiety and stress.
  • On top of this, plants are aesthetically pleasing. They wash us over with a sense of calm that can’t be experienced anywhere else. 

2. HEAT ISLANDS

  • These are found in urban areas, they are low on green space and dense in buildings, roads, parking lots etc. One efficient solution that has come up is creating of green roofs.  Green roofs help in:
  • Absorbing rain water- the water travels through plants before reaching the sewage which helps in reducing the ground water level and prevents sewage flooding.
  • Reducing temperature- plants absorb up to 50% of the sunlight which helps in reducing the ambient temperature. Moreover, this also increases the efficiency of air conditioners in the building and solar panels on the roof.
  • Adding value to property- because roofs are protected by vegetation and plants are successful in absorbing rain water, controlling sewage floods, reducing temperature etc, the lifespan of a building automatically exceeds 60 years. Green roofs also act as natural fire-resistant layers of the buildings, adding further to their value.
  • Not to forget, plants can also provide fresh vegetables to building occupants which would lead to community development.
  • Green walls are also a great new way that should be instilled in buildings as they act as thermal insulation, making the building les energy consuming.

3. RETAILERS

  • The main aim of retailers is to enhance their customers’ loyalty and make sure that they revisit the store. ‘Biophilia’ is the innate human attraction to nature. Biophilic design has started attracting the customers in a way that retailers have been forced to think the merits of investing in a balcony green wall. For having an advantage over their competitors, stores often want to create a shopping experience that no customer would forget anytime soon. Hence, a lot of retailers have started investing in indoor plants so that the lush greenery can put the customers at ease while they’re shopping. Through this way, the shopping centres successfully translate the outside to inside and create more favourable environment for retail activity. The perception towards this experiment is still subjective, however, there’s a firm belief amongst the retailers that plants are an integral part of the selling environment. A great example has been set by an H&M store in London’s biggest shopping mall-Westfield. The store has recently incorporated both live and faux plants to represent a jungle-like atmosphere which is quite a brave step especially taken by a fashion store.

Historically, development took nature away from humans and now humans are trying their best to score nature back. All of us have a deep, innate desire to be around greenery even if we aren’t always aware of it. Would you prefer to see more grey than green? A simple question like this might change your whole perception towards gardening, urban plants, vegetable garden homes, terrace garden, balcony garden, green walls and much more. We are fortunate enough to realize that somebody was in their right mind to grow a plant during the formulation of modern cities. Public administration and private companies are readily registering the fact that if plants are a great addition to homes and offices then they would play the same phenomenal role in streets and stores too.

Singapore with its unique urban landscape has emerged as a green-leader for the whole world to see. The entire city is designed like a lush green garden, the highway is sided by palm trees all the way and the airport terminal has its own indoor forest. In fact, Singapore has made it compulsory to replace any greenery that gets removed while making of a building. The feeling of being in an ultimate jungle a.k.a Singapore must be uncanny. However, one shouldn’t wait for the officials to realize the importance of urban greenery and make the necessary changes. Lucy Larcom, an American poet and author mentioned “He who plants a tree. Plants a hope.” Waiting for others to take an action for you equates to blaming someone else for a crime that you committed. According to UN, 68% of the world’s population is going to live in cities by 2050. Incorporating more and more of indoor natural elements in our lives and in the areas we live hence becomes a priority. In all honesty, many of our cities are not planned keeping nature in mind. On the contrary, many of the cities are planned in a way to purposely “avoid” natural elements. But with time, engineers, architects, city planners, retail designers and even the entire community that exists in the areas where we work or live are now having nature in mind. This definitely remind us of the time when Theodore Roosevelt said “To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, to live as a people, we must have trees.”

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