Edwards on...Simple yet valuable green city solutions

For as long as I can remember, we nurserymen have lauded the environmental benefits of our trade as a panacea to the world's problems.

More plants in gardens, more trees in hedgerows and more parks in cities could only be a good thing.

All that greenness was, surely, well, "green". But clear as it seemed to us, the rest of the world wasn’t listening — they were too busy looking for clever scientific means of turning, say, carbon dioxide into oxygen without the need for vast amounts of energy.

Climate change is now accepted by all but the most stupid of American politicians. Cities have woken up to the fact that they will get hotter and air quality will deteriorate, problems that will not be best solved with greater use of high-energy air-conditioning units. Green roofs and green spaces are the clear answers to any nurseryman, but who wants an easy solution like that?

I had a little wobble a few years back when science established that a plant only offsets the carbon footprint of its production if it lives for more than a few months, making bedding look a little dodgy. But finally, after a good deal of proper scientific study, it seems that hardy plants are a good thing.

That’s without considering the benefits that green spaces bring to human mental and physical health — just looking out on a green space is good for a person. Yet still, when all the evidence is there to be seen, there is pressure to reduce, not increase, the amount of green space in our cities.

It’s not just us in the UK who struggle to get the message across but perhaps, finally, a change is starting to take place. "Green city" groups are beginning to form worldwide, presenting clear information to decision-makers and providing them with a means of valuing in monetary terms the green spaces that they have.

This is a real step forward. Once green spaces are valued as assets, they will be protected. If those assets are seen to fall in value then, surely, there will finally be a public outcry.

Tim Edwards is chairman of Boningale Nurseries

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